Prisoner transferred to jail in army base over lèse majesté conversation

The authorities have transferred a Bike for Dad plot suspect to a remand facility on a military base after the junta’s legal office filed charges against him under the lèse majesté law.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), Benjarat Meetian, defence lawyer for Thanakrit Thongngernperm, a suspect in the alleged Bike for Dad terrorist plot, on Tuesday, 5 December 2015, reported that Thanakrit was transferred from Khon Kaen Provincial Prison in the northeast to the remand facility in the 11th Military Base on Rama V Road in Bangkok,.

The lawyer said that Khon Kaen prison staff informed her that the reason behind the transfer was that the legal office of the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) recently filed charges under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, against Thanakrit.

The Bike for Dad plot suspect faces Article 112 for allegedly defaming the Thai monarchy while talking to other inmates in Khon Kaen Prison.

Benjarat added that the transfer might negatively affect the suspect and that he might be in danger.

This is because her client earlier filed charges under Article 157 of the Criminal Code, malfeasance in office, against Maj Gen Wicharn Jodtaeng, the head of the law office of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), and Pol Gen Sriwarah Rangsipramkul, the Deputy Police Chief, for falsely accusing him of being one of the nine Bike for Dad terrorist plot suspects despite the fact that he had been detained at Khon Kaen Prison for more than one year after the 2014 coup d’état.

She added that Thanakrit had already twice withdrawn malfeasance charges against the two officers after he was convinced to do so in exchange for having the Bike for Dad plot allegation removed. However, the accusation cannot be removed because it is a serious criminal charge.

At 1 pm today, 6 January 2015, Benjarat will again file charges under Article 157 against the two officers at the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

The military and police accused Thanakrit of being one of the nine suspects in the alleged terrorist plot around Bike for Dad, a cycling rally to honour HM the King on 11 December 2015. Rumour has it that the prime target of the foiled terrorist plot was Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister.

Thanakrit, however, has been detained for more than a year since shortly after the 2014 coup as he is one of the 26 suspects in the ‘Khon Kaen Model’ uprising case. Despite the fact that the he has been in detention, the police claimed that Thanakrit contacted other suspects via mobile phone from the prison.

Thanakrit during an interrogation denied the police allegation, saying that he could not use a personal mobile phone to contact others outside the prison cells since it is the rule of all correctional facilities nationwide.

Last month, Krit Wongvech, the Director of the Central Correctional Facility of the northeastern province of Khon Kaen, confirmed Thanakrit’s statement, saying that it is strictly forbidden for inmates to use personal mobile phones and illustrated that a signal would ring immediately if the prison phone interception devices detect phone signals coming from the cells.

“In addition, there are phone interception devices installed in the prison that could cut off phone signals, so it is very difficult for the 4,000 prisoners in this detention facility to contact others outside,” said Krit, the prison director.

Benjarat said earlier that it is impossible for Thanakrit to be involved in the Bike for Dad plot with the eight other suspects, all of whom have also been accused of Article 112 of the Criminal Code and Article 14 of the Computer Crime Code, for contacting each other online to stage an attack on the auspicious event for the King.