The fate of lèse majesté detainees under the junta is perhaps not much different than under past democratic governments -- unwarranted lengthy detention without bail remains the order of the day.
Akradet E., a third-year engineering student at Mahanakorn University of Technology, was denied bail for the fourth time on Tuesday.
Akradet’s father, Surapol, made a plea to the court with a 150,000 baht surety that the university required registration on 5-9 August so that he could be enrolled for the fourth year when classes reopen.
The Criminal Court said there was no justification to change the refusal of bail since the defendant was an educated adult who knew of his acts and detention would prevent possible flight.
“I’m quite upset about the bail denials and worried about his educational future,” said Surapol after learning of the fourth rejection since his 24-year-old son was arrested on 18 June at an apartment in Bangkok’s Nong Chok district.
He was alleged to have posted remarks on Facebook against the monarchy and a complaint was made against him in March this year.
Chaleaw J., 55, a tailor born in the North Eastern province of Chaiyaphum, said he has already requested bail twice, but hoped his wife would file for bail again soon. He planned to confess once the trial began and hoped to seek royal pardon as soon as possible.
Chaleaw, a Bangkok resident, was a self-taught computer geek who listened to all radio stations including online red-shirt radio programmes. He attended rallies only a few times as he was busy with his military/police uniform tailoring work which also involved his two younger sisters.
The soft-spoken tailor said he had stored hundreds of voice clips, mostly songs, on 4shared.com, a free file sharing and storage website, as he did not have time to listen to all the downloaded items, and saved them for later.
There were a few speeches by a red-shirt radio programme host named Banphot that he also stored there, hoping to get the gist later without intending to share them with anyone else.
“In fact, I mostly forgot what I had stored there,” said Chaleo who was detained for seven days after reporting to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on 3 June.
He got special treatment -- while most people got 1-2 rounds of interrogation, he got more. The first round took about one hour, and the second and third rounds took 4-5 hours each. The poorly-educated Chaleo was also twice tested by a lie-detector before being brought to the Technology Crime Suppression Division on 9 June to hear lèse majesté charges and offences under the Computer Crime Act.
He was able to return home for just one night after he requested bail with an 800,000 baht surety, but the next morning the request was denied by the court. He has since been detained at Bangkok Remand Prison.
Rung Sira is the penname of a well-known 51-year-old poet and pioneer cyber activist. He said he was caught while on his way to a neighbouring country to wait for his application for Person of Concern status to be processed by the UN refugee agency.
“On 24 June, some 40 fully-equipped officers raided and arrested my daughter and my niece and nephew in Songkhla trying to nail me with something. I knew that I could not stay idle so I tried to contact the UNHCR to seek asylum status but then I was intercepted in Kalasin,” said Rung.
He said he was not assaulted or tortured but was searched for drugs and weapons, but the police found nothing.
Rung’s poems and his online articles and comments were passionate and critical of the elite establishment. He said the people’s movement under the banner of the United Democratic Front Against Dictatorship, the main faction of the red shirts, was finished and the future of the country lay in the hands of individuals.