Submitted on Thu, 2016-10-27 15:27
For a second time, a military court in northern Thailand has denied bail for a lèse-majesté suspect accused of posting defamatory images of the Crown Prince online.
On 26 October 2016, the Chiang Rai Military Court denied bail for Sarawut (surname withheld due to privacy reasons), a 32-year-old lèse-majesté suspect, reported Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).
A day earlier, Sarawut’s relatives and lawyer had offered as surety a land title valued at over 400,000 baht, in addition to 100,000 baht in cash. They pleaded that Sarawut should be released since his wife is currently taking care of their three-month-old son alone.
However, the court informed the family on 26 October that bail was denied, citing the severity of the charges, flight risk and fear that the suspect might commit further crimes.
Sarawut is an optometrist living in Chiang Rai. The police summoned Sarawut to hear accusations against him on 11 October. He is accused of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, for allegedly posting two images of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn deemed defamatory to the Thai Monarchy.
Apart from lèse majesté, Sarawut is also accused of offences under Article 14 (3) and (5) of the 2007 Computer Crime Act, a law against the importation of illegal online content.
The investigation into Sarawut began when soldiers from the 37th Military Circle of Chiang Rai filed a complaint under Article 112 against Sarawut on 21 July 2016. After the complaint was filed, the police confiscated Sarawut’s electronic devices under a search warrant on 26 August 2016 before sending them to the Technology Crime Suppression Division.
Sarawut has been detained since 11 October 2016. After reading the accusations against Sarawut that day, the police took him to the military court to request custody, reasoning that investigation into the case was incomplete.
Though Sarawut’s lawyer told the judge that his client has to take care of his sons — the older being 5-years-old while the younger is only 3 months old — the military court granted custody permission to the police.