Bail denied to human rights lawyer facing up to 50 years jail

The Criminal Court has refused to release on bail a human rights lawyer facing up to 50 years in prison for royal defamation and sedition.

The Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Rd., Bangkok, on 11 May 2017, renewed the detention period for Prawet Praphanukul, a human rights lawyer accused of violating Articles 112 and 116 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law and the sedition law.

The defence lawyer representing Prawet submitted a bail request with the position of a university lecturer friend of Prawet, valued at about 680,000 baht, as guarantee. However, the court denied bail citing flight risk, severity of the charge, and the possibility that the suspect might interfere with evidence.

The court dismissed Prawet’s argument that he has to act as a lawyer in many ongoing cases and that under Article 14(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 11(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.   

Prawet is one of six people arrested by police and military officers on 29 April 2017 before being taken to the 11th Military Circle in Bangkok.  

They are accused of lèse majesté and violations of the Computer Crime Act for sharing a Facebook post about the missing 1932 revolution plaque by Somsak Jeamteerasakul, an academic currently living in self-imposed exile in France.

The others are: Saran, a 54-year-old university lecturer, Chatchawan, a 24-year-old law student, Danai, a 34-year-old man from Chiang Mai, Wanchai, a 42-year-old man, and Panit, a 26-year-old secondary school teacher. The surnames of the five are withheld due to privacy concerns.

Prawet and Danai are the only ones also accused of sedition.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Prawet allegedly posted Facebook comments that Thailand should become a republic.

The maximum penalties for Prawet for all counts of lèse majesté and sedition add up to 157 years in prison.  Under Thailand’s Criminal Code, however, the maximum total jail term other than life imprisonment is 50 years.

Prawet was a defence lawyer for Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul, aka Da Torpedo, an anti-establishment red shirt who was imprisoned for eight years for making public speeches deemed defamatory to the Thai monarchy in 2008.

He has often posted messages critical of the Thai military government and the use of the lèse majesté law.

Prawet Praphanukul, a human rights lawyer