Activists charged over Rajabhakti Park trip refuse to be tried by Military Court

Activists charged over Rajabhakti Park trip refuse to be tried by Military Court

 

Embattled anti-junta activists charged with defying the Thai junta’s ban on political gatherings by organizing a field trip to Rajabhakti Park, the military’s royal theme park plagued with corruption allegations, have refused to be tried by a Military Court.

Six prominent anti-junta activists on Wednesday, 15 June 2016, submitted a petition to the Military Court during the deposition hearing, challenging the Military Court’s jurisdiction over their case, BBC Thai reported.

The six are: Sirawit Serithiwat, a student activist from the New Democracy Movement, Anon Nampa, a human rights lawyer and core leader of Resistant Citizen, Kititach Suman, Wisarut Anupoonkarn, Koranok Kamda and Wijit Hanhaboon.

They were indicted by the military Judge Advocate General’s Department on 25 April 2016 for violating National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 3/2015, which prohibits political gatherings of five or more persons, by organising a field trip to Prachuap Khiri Khan Province to investigate the Rajabhakti Park corruption scandals.

In the petition the activists argued that since they are civilians they should not be tried by a Military Court, but the court of justice, adding that Thonburi District Court in Bangkok should have jurisdiction over the case as it is the locality in which they started the field trip to Rajabhakti Park.

The Military Court accepted the petition and said that the court will pass the petition to Taling Chan District Court for further consideration. The military prosecutor in the case did not object to the petition.

If the two courts disagree, the Court Jurisdiction Committee, comprising 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.

In total, 11 youth activists were summoned by the police over the failed excursion to Rajabhakti Park on 7 December 2015.

Only six, however, were indicted by the military prosecutor and are about to face trial under the Military Court, as they refused to cooperate with the police or sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) promising to steer clear of political activities, claiming that they did nothing wrong, but merely performed their role as active citizens.

Five of the six youth activists calling for an investigation into corruption allegations surrounding the construction of Rajabhakti Park at the Railway Police Station in Thonburi on 8 January 2016