While the government was humiliated at the UN’s ICCPR meeting in Geneva for serious human right violations, at home a Thai court has again refused to release a student activist who has become a posterchild of the pro-democracy movement.
On 13 March 2017, the Provincial Court of Khon Kaen rejected a 700,000 baht bail bid by Jatuphat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa, a law student and key member of the New Democracy Movement (NDM).
It was the seventh time that Jatuphat’s family had asked the court to free the activist to no avail.
Maintaining its earlier ruling, the court reasoned that the activist had mocked the authority of the state without fear of the law and also faces other charges for violating the Public Referendum Act and the junta’s political gathering ban in connection with his previous political activities.
The court dismissed the defence lawyer’s argument that there is no point in detaining Jatuphat further because the investigation process is already complete and that he has to take a final exam on 17 March to complete his bachelor’s degree in law at Khon Kaen University.
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 him 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 However, his bail was revoked on 22 December after he posted a satirical message mocking the authorities on his Facebook account.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