A provincial court has once again refused to release an anti-junta student activist accused of lèse majesté, even though several renowned Thai academics have volunteered to act as guarantors for his release.
At 11:20 am on 22 February 2017, the Provincial Court of Khon Kaen denied bail valued at 700,000 baht for Jatuphat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa, a law student and key member of the New Democracy Movement (NDM).
Dismissing the defence lawyer’s argument that there is no point in detaining Jatuphat further because the case’s investigation process is already completed, the court reasoned that the suspect could try to interfere with evidence or jump bail if he is released.
To no avail, Niran Pitakwatchara, a former National Human Rights Commissioner; Sulak Sivaraksa, renowned historian and critic of the lèse majesté law; Gothom Arya, former election commissioner and Director of Mahidol University’s Institute for Human Rights and Peace Studies (IHRPS); and Eakpant Pidavanija, current Director of IHRPS volunteered to act as guarantors for Jatuphat’s release.
Before the court’s ruling, Sulak, who has been accused of lèse majesté himself, told Prachatai that if Jatuphat jumps bail after his release, the court could detain him instead.
Jatuphat is accused of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, for sharing on his Facebook account a controversial biography of King Vajiralongkorn published by BBC Thai. He is the first person to be arrested for lèse majesté under the reign of the new King.
Shortly after he was arrested for lèse majesté on 3 December 2016, the court released Jatuphat on bail. However, his bail was revoked on 22 December after he posted a satirical message mocking authorities on his Facebook account. The message read, “Economy is poor but they (authorities) took my money for bail.”
Despite the fact that more than 2,000 people shared the same article on Facebook, he was the only one arrested for lèse majesté.
Jatuphat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa