Submitted on Thu, 2018-02-08 20:06
The 39 pro-election protesters have reported to the police to hear the charges against them. The courts released them without bail.
On 8 February 2018, 34 out of the 39 pro-election protesters known as the MBK 39 reported to Pathumwan Police Station to hear the charges against them. The junta accused the group of joining a public assembly on 27 January within 150 meters of a royal site, in violation of Article 7 of the 2015 Public Assembly Act. They were also charged with breaching the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order 3/2015, the ban on political gatherings of five people or more.
Four individuals postponed reporting and did not show up at the police station today. They are the human rights lawyer Anon Nampa and three anti-junta activists: Sirawit Seritiwat, Rangsiman Rome and Eakkachai Hongkangwan. Khaosod journalist Noppakow Kongsuwan had already reported separately and been granted bail.
Nine of the 39, mostly well-known political activists, face additional charges of leading the activity and committing sedition, in violation of Article 116 of the Criminal Code. Five out of the nine reported to the police today including, Sombat Boonngamanong, Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, Nuttha Mahattana, Sukrit Piansuwan and Veera Somkwamkid. Some of them have argued that they were neither involved in organising the protest, nor gave a public speech that day.
Sombat maintains that he merely observed the activity. He has challenged the police to show evidence that he led the pro-election protest.
After the charge hearing, Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, the Royal Thai Police Deputy Commissioner, told the media that the police were against releasing the protesters due to the high risk of flight.
Nevertheless, Pathumwan Municipal Court ruled to release without bail the 28 protesters accused only of violating the Public Assembly Act and the ban on public gatherings. The Bangkok Criminal Court also denied the police’s request to detain the activists accused of sedition, ruling that the authorities have collected all crucial evidence.
On 27 January, over 100 people gathered at the skywalk near MBK department store to urge the junta to step down and stop postponing elections. Apart from high-profile pro-democracy activists, such as Rangsiman Rome, Ekkachai Hongkangwan and Anon Nampa, the police also summoned journalists and low-profile participants who merely observed the event.
The 39 were dubbed the MBK 39, a play on the teen idol group BNK48.
Some of the BMK39
The five activists after the Criminal Court releases them without bail (from left to right) Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, Sukrit Piansuwan, Nuttha Mahattana, Veera Somkwamkid and Sombat Boonngamanong.