Trial of red shirt accused of sedition for defaming junta leader halted

The Military Court has halted hearings in the case of a red shirt accused of sedition for defaming the junta’s leader because of disputed jurisdiction on the case.

The Military Court of Bangkok, on Monday, 21 December 2015, held a deposition hearing for Rinda Parichabutr, a red-shirt woman nicknamed Lin, 45, who was arrested in July 2015 for spreading a false rumour through social networks that Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, and his wife sent about 10 billion baht to a secret bank account in Singapore.

The police after the arrest charged Lin under Articles 116 and 348 of the Penal Code, the laws on sedition and on spreading rumours that might cause public panic.

During the hearing, the military court judges said that the allegation against the suspect did not constitute an offence under the sedition law, but under Article 328 of the Criminal Code on criminal defamation against individuals.

In brief Article 328 states that if the offence of defamation be committed by means of publication of a document, drawing, painting, cinematographic film, picture or letters made visible by any means, the offender shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding two years and a fine not exceeding 200,000 baht.

After the statement from the military court judges, Pawinee Chumsri, a lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) who represents Lin, said that as offences under Article 328 of the Criminal Code are not crimes related to national security, the military court has no jurisdiction on the case.

National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Announcements No. 37/2014 and 38/2014 state that only cases related to national security are to be tried by military courts, the lawyer pointed out.

The military court judges disagreed with the lawyer. However, the military prosecutors agreed with Pawinee, saying the case should proceed in the Criminal Court as it does not constitute an offence under the sedition law.

At the end of the hearing, the military court judges decided to halt the case temporarily, saying that the case will be sent to the criminal court for consideration.

Pawinee said that if the criminal court disagrees with the military court, the Court Jurisdiction Committee formed by officials from both courts shall make a final decision on which court should be handling the case in accordance with Article 10 of the 1999 Court Jurisdiction Act.

 

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