Military court questions activist’s mother behind closed door

A military court has questioned an anti-junta activist’s mother accused of lèse majesté in a closed hearing.

On 14 December 2016, the Military Court of Bangkok held a deposition hearing for Patnaree Charnkij, the mother of the well-known anti-junta activist Sirawit Serithiwat.

Before the hearing began, the court announced it would proceed with the hearing in camera, allowing only Patnaree and her defence lawyer to be in the courtroom without any observers since the case is related to the lèse majesté law.

During the hearing, Patnaree denied the lèse majesté allegation against her and vowed to fight the case.

The military prosecutor had indicted Patnaree of an offence under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, on 22 July 2016 for allegedly defaming the Thai monarchy in a private Facebook chat with Burin Intin, another lèse majesté suspect.

She was accused of lèse majesté for replying to a Facebook message from Burin deemed to be lèse majesté by texting ‘ja’ (Human Rights Watch translated this word as a non-committal, colloquial ‘yes’ in the Thai language). According to the authorities, this shows that she accepted or agreed with the message and failed to report Burin to the authorities.

The police issued an arrest warrant for Patnaree on 6 May 2016. After being detained for two days, however, the military court released Patnaree on bail to the tune of 500, 000 baht on the condition that she does not go abroad or participate in any political activity.

Patnaree’s trial will be held at the Military Court of Bangkok on 29 March 2017.

Sirawith talking to his mom through the jail bars at the Crime Suppression Division in May 2016