8 junta critics indicted for crimes against state

A military prosecutor has officially charged eight people allegedly involved in a Facebook page mocking the Thai junta leader for crimes against the state.

The Military Judge Advocate General’s Office on Tuesday, 23 August 2016 indicted eight people accused of being administrators of a parody Facebook page mocking the junta leader called ‘We Love General Prayut’ of Article 116 of the Criminal Code, the sedition law.

The eight were also indicted with Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act, a law against the importation of illegal computer content.

After the indictment, however, the Military Court of Bangkok granted them bail with 200,000 baht surety for each of the suspects under the conditions that they cannot travel abroad and are not allowed to engage in activities that could cause instability.

The authorities took them from the court to Bangkok Remand Prison and the Women’s Correctional Institute of Bangkok and released them at around 7 pm.

According to Winyat Chatmontree, an attorney from Free Thai Legal Aid (FTLA), the allegations against the eight should not be deemed as offences under Article 116.

He added that he has not seen the documents containing details of the evidence used against the eight.

The eight suspects are: Supachai Saibutr, a photographer; Harit Mahaton, former reporter of Matichon and independent writer; Noppakao Kongsuwan, a person affiliated with the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), the main red shirt faction; Natthika Worathaiwich, Worawit Saksamutnan, Yothin Mankongsanga, Thonnawan Buranasiri and Kannasit Tangboonthina.

They were abducted by the military on 27 April 2016 and taken to the detention facility in the 11th Military Circle, Bangkok, for interrogation.  

 Out of the eight, Harit Mahaton and Natthika Worathaiwich were also indicted for offences under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law.

The two are accused of defaming the Thai monarchy in private correspondence via Facebook chat. The Military Court had previously granted them bail with 500,000 baht surety each.

If found guilty of offences under the sedition law alone, the eight could face up to seven years of imprisonment.

The eight in front of the Military Court of Bangkok on 23 August 2016