Red-shirt Australian still held at immigration, no money for air fare home

Conor David Purcell, an Australian national who was arrested and convicted for his involvement in the red-shirt rallies in April and May and was ordered to be released on 20 Aug, is still being detained at the Police Immigration Division at Soi Suan Phlu because he has no money for the air fare home.

Purcell went on stage and gave speeches during the red-shirt rallies in Ratchaprasong, and was arrested on 27 May.    

He was convicted of violating the Emergency Decree and sentenced to 3 months in jail.  But as he pleaded guilty, the sentence was commuted to one month and 15 days, and as he had already been detained for 89 days since the arrest, the court ordered his release.

In the ruling, the court said that apart from violating the Emergency Decree, the defendant had not carried or used weapons, or carried out any other action meant to harm life or public property; therefore, the defendant had not committed a serious crime.  The court took into account the fact the defendant’s motive in joining the protesters and committing the offence was the result of his belief that his actions constituted legitimate expression in accordance with democracy where people can have differing views.  The court then gave him a light punishment.

However, Purcell is still currently being held at the Suan Phlu Immigration Detention Centre as he cannot afford the air fare and other expenses, which the Australian Embassy has refused to help with.

His family in Australia has been notified of this, but no progress has yet been made.

A friend of his in Thailand told Prachatai that he was going to get in touch with the Australian Embassy for help in a couple of days, while he was trying to collect money from others for the air fare.  Purcell might promise to repay the embassy later for other expenses, the source said.