Police press charges against human rights lawyer for defying their orders

Police officers have decided to press charges against a human rights lawyer representing anti-junta youth activists, accusing her of defying police orders.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), on Thursday, 12 May 2016, the prosecutor of Dusit District Court, Bangkok, informed Sirikan Charoensiri, TLHR lawyer, that police investigators have agreed to press charges against her under Articles 142 and 368 of the Criminal Code for propagating false accusations against investigating officers and disobeying police orders.

According to the prosecutor, they will announce whether to indict Sirikan on 27 July.

Sirikan is accused of objecting to a search of her car by police officers on the night of 27 June 2015 in front of the Military Court of Bangkok after the 14 activists were arrested and taken to the Court. The police wanted to confiscate the mobile phones of some of the activists which were in Sirikan’s car, but she refused, claiming that the police did not have with them a warrant to search her car.

The next day, she 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 officers unlawfully confiscated her car for the search.

After listening to the charges, Sirikan submitted a letter to the prosecutor, saying that police officers attempted to search her car without a search warrant and that she was merely protecting her clients.

Sam Zarifi, Asia and the Pacific Regional Director of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), and officers from the Swedish Embassy were present at Dusit District Court to listen to the charges against Sirikan.

Sirikan is one of the defence lawyers for the 14 anti-junta activists who were detained for participating in an event to commemorate the 2014 coup d’état in mid 2015.

In addition to being charged under Article 142 and 368, the police also accused her under Articles 172 and 174 of the Criminal Code for allegedly hiding evidence and refusing to cooperate with police officers. However, the police interrogators have not concluded whether they will press these charges against her.

If found guilty under Article 142 alone, the human rights lawyer could be jailed for up to three years.

Sirikan Charoensiri, a lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (courtesy of New Democracy Movement)