Military accuses Isaan red-shirt leader of lèse majesté

The junta’s legal officers have accused one of the nine people arrested over the alleged plot to assassinate the junta leader of lèse majesté over a Line message.

On 24 March 2017, Maj Gen Wicharn Jodtaeng and Col Burin Thongprapai, legal officer of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) took nine people accused of involvement in the alleged plot to assassinate Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, to the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) in Bangkok.

The nine were arrested from their homes in central and northeastern Thailand on 18 March after the authorities searched their premises and reportedly found sets of military weapons.

The authorities believe that they are linked to Wuthipong Kachathamkun, aka Kotee, a fugitive prominent hard-core red-shirt leader.

Most of the anti-establishment red shirts are accused of terrorism, possession of unauthorised or illegal weapons, and involvement in a criminal association. The nine were detained for seven days at the 11th Military Circle in Bangkok after their arrest before being handed to the police.

At the CSD, a police officer from the Technology Crime Suppression Division announced that Suriyasak Chatphithakkun, 49, one of the nine, also faces accusations under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law and Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act, the law against the importation of illegal content.

According to the complaint filed by Maj Gen Wicharn, Suriyasak, a local red shirt leader from Surin Province, on 13 July 2016 allegedly wrote a message deemed defamatory to the Thai Monarchy in a Line chat group called ‘People outside the Coconut Shell’.

As the alleged crime occurred before 12 September 2016 when the NCPO Leader’s Order No. 55/2016 came into effect, Suriyasak will be tried in a military court, added the authorities.

In addition, the authorities also accused him of another terrorism charge for his involvement in the April-May 2010 political violence.

The nine people accused of involvement in the alleged plot to assassinate Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha at the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) in Bangkok on 24 March 2017 (Photo from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights)