Prosecutors postpone indictment of academics, students

Chiang Mai’s prosecutors have postponed the indictment of academics and students accused of breaching the junta’s ban on political gatherings by participating in an academic forum.

On 21 September 2017, the prosecutor at Chiang Mai District Court postponed the indictment of the five individuals who are accused of violating the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Head’s Order No. 3/2015, the junta’s ban on political gatherings of five or more persons.

It was fifth postponement and the last permitted under the Criminal Procedure Code.

The five are Chayan Vaddhanaphuti, Director of the Regional Centre for Social Science and Sustainable Development of Chiang Mai University (CMU), Chaipong Samnieng, a lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Pakawadee Weerapaspong, an independent writer and activist, Teeramon Buangam, a master’s student at CMU, and Nontawat Machai, an undergraduate student.

They are accused of holding up placards reading ‘an academic forum is not a military camp’ at the 13th International Conference on Thai Studies in Chiang Mai in July. All of the accused have maintained that they did nothing wrong and denied the charges.

According to Montri Namkhan, the prosecutor, the police have questioned two of the five academics whom the accused requested the police to interview about the case.

The prosecutor added that the accused have to report to the authorities every month and the next appointment is scheduled for 24 October 2017.

The charges against the five were filed by Col Suebsakul Buarawong, Deputy Commander of the 33rd Military Circle of Chiang Mai.

Earlier, Puttipong Sirimart, Deputy Governor of Chiang Mai, had submitted a letter to the Ministry of Interior to threaten Pakawadee and Chaipong.

Pakawadee Weerapaspong (left) and Chaipong Samnieng (right) holding up placards reading ‘An academic forum - is not - a military camp’. (Photo from the Thai Academic Network for Civil Rights (TANCR))