The Appeal Court has refused to release an anti-junta student activist accused of lèse majesté.
On 1 March 2017, the Appeal Court Region 4 confirmed the ruling of the Court of First Instance not to release Jatuphat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa, a law student and key member of the New Democracy Movement (NDM).
The court reasoned that the activist mocked the authority of the state without fearing the law and is also battling another charge for violating the Public Referendum Act and the junta’s political gathering ban in his previous political activities.
Jatuphat argued in court that his detention in fact makes it more difficult for him to consult with his lawyer about other cases he is battling with, delaying the court procedures on other cases.
On 22 February, the Khon Kaen Provincial Court denied bail of 700,000 baht for Jatuphat, citing flight risk and severity of the charge.
The court dismissed 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.
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 However, his bail was revoked on 22 December after he posted a satirical message mocking the authorities on his Facebook account.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