Thai police confiscate five phones from the 14 student activists’ lawyer

The Thai police confiscated five mobile phones after a search of the car of a defence lawyer for the 14 embattled anti-junta student activists while the lawyer pointed out that the search was unlawful.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), at 3 pm on Saturday Pol Col Suriya Jamnongchok, an investigative officer of Samranrat Police Station in Bangkok searched the car of Sirikan Charoensiri, a lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), who is one of the defence lawyers for the 14 embattled student activists in front of the Bangkok Military Court.

The police officer reasoned that the search was to collect objects that were used for illegal activities as evidence and things that were acquired illegally.

An investigative officer searches Sirikan's car in front of the Bangkok Military Court on 27 June 2015 (Photo from TLHR)

After the search, the officer collected five mobile phones that were found in the lawyer’s car, some of which belong to the student activists who are now under detention, including a tablet, TLHR reported.

The police later brought all the evidence collected from the lawyer’s car to Chanasongkram Police Station.

Prior to the search, Sirikan went to Samranrat Police Station at around 1 pm to file a complaint against the police under Article 157 of the Thai Criminal Code, malfeasance in office, pointing out that the officers unlawfully confiscated her car for the search.

The lawyer also pointed out to police that the investigative officer who searched her car transported the evidence collected to the police station without sealing it, which was against normal search procedures, and spent about 15 minutes to hand the evidence to the relevant authorities.

While filing the complaint, Sirikan told the police to note down the unprofessional way in which the evidence was handled in the police report because the electronic information on the confiscated devices can easily be tampered with. However, the police did not accept the complaint.

The police attempted the search Sirikan’s car at 1 am on Saturday, but were not able to do so because the lawyer objected to allowing a search without an official court warrant. The officers obtained a warrant at 11 am on Saturday and were able to carry out the search.