Elderly teacher gets 3 months for giving flower to anti-junta activist

The Military Court has handed out a three-month jail term to an elderly teacher accused of sedition for giving a flower to an anti-junta activist.

Matichon Online reported that the Military Court of Bangkok at 11:40 am on Monday, 23 May 2016, sentenced Preecha Kaewbanpaew, a 77-year-old retired teacher, to six months’ imprisonment and fined him 8,000 baht.

The Military Court, however, halved the sentence to three months’ imprisonment and a 4,000 baht fine and suspended the jail term for one year because Preecha pleaded guilty. 

Preecha was charged under Article 116 of the Criminal Code, the sedition law, and violation of National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Announcements Nos. 7/2014, 37/2014 and 38/2014 for participating in a political gathering of five or more people.

He was accused after giving flowers to support Pansak Srithep, a pro-democracy activist and the father of a boy killed by the military during the 2010 political violence, while the activist was leading a three-day march called “I Walk Therefore I Am” on 15 March 2015 to campaign against the use of military courts to try civilians. The march was organised by Resistant Citizen, an anti-junta activist group.

He also briefly joined the march from the Democracy Monument to Thammasat University, Tha Prachan Campus.

Preecha was only informed about the charges and that there was an arrest warrant against him when he was detained by immigration officers and sent to Chana Songkhram Police Station in Bangkok in October 2015, when he was about to leave on a sightseeing trip to Laos.

The Military Court last year granted him bail on a 150,000 baht bond, using his Government Saving Bank Premium Savings Certificate and 1,000 baht cash as surety.

Preecha Kaewbanpaew (2nd from the right) in front of the Military Court of Bangkok on 23 May 2016 (Photo from Winyat Chatmontree)