Witness of 2010 Massacre might be tried for another 2 years: lawyer

On 20 July 2018, the Bangkok Military Court called for witness testimony of the Article 112 case, the royal defamation case, against “Waen” Nattatida Meewangpla, a crucial witness in the 6-dead massacre at Pathum temple in 2010. 

The testimony of two witnesses, Maj Gen Wicharn Jodtaeng and Police Major General Surasak Khunnarong, started at 8.30 am. When Waen was brought to the Bangkok Military Court, she was taken into the building immediately, and the Court ordered this case to be a closed trial. 

At 2.00 pm after the trial, Winyat Chatmontree, the defendant’s lawyer, gave his opinion to the media. He said that the witness in today’s testimony didn’t have any clear evidence indicating that the defendant is guilty. The only evidence used to accuse the defendant is a photo taken of a screen of a smartphone showing Waen’s conversation on the messaging application LINE, just one picture and one message. 

There was no evidence showing computer data that can be compared to those in the defendant’s smartphone to check its accuracy or find if there are any discrepancies in the document. Besides, there are still many doubts about the acquisition of the evidence and eyewitnesses. 

Winyat views that the two witnesses had made an inquiry on Waen in a different case (the court-bombing case) all along, with a record of the investigation of that case as the evidence, but the witness gave conflicting testimonies to the truth. The defence lawyer sees that this eyewitness’s suspicious point makes the evidence weak.

“The defence lawyer tried to destroy the credibility of the accusation that Waen is someone who holds hostility towards the king or is part of an anti-monarchy group. The lawyer brought the original copy of an invitation sent from the Foundation of King Rama Nine, The Great in 2013 to show that Waen helped organised a pro-monarchy event, displaying her loyalty. However, the prosecutor objected to this document, claiming that it has no relations to this witness. The defence lawyer argued that the witness accusing the defendant of anti-royalism could be due to personal prejudice, despite how the defendant has continuously denied all charges and insisted on her innocence all along,” Winyat said.

Another point the lawyer views as a weakness of the accusation is that the message they claimed was posted by Waen wasn’t shown to the public. It was posted in a private group of members, but there was no evidence of messages sent from other members.

According to the charge, the problematic message was posted on 8 March 2015, but a point worth observing is that after that day, Nattatida was arrested and officers had taken her LINE account and password. Why is it that there is only one piece of paper as evidence for a crime that caused her to be held in prison like this?, Winyat questioned.

When asked how long he thinks this trial will take, Winyat explained that in this case, the prosecutor has nine witnesses and the defendant has 10 witnesses. It should take around two years since there aren’t enough judges. The witnesses for the prosecution tend to not come according to the summons, as well as the fact that the dates and times for the appointments don’t allow the case to be tried continuously. 

As for bail, the defence lawyer put forward 900,000 baht to bail Nattatida, but the Bangkok Military Court denied, stating that there is no reason to change the court order to something else. The legal team plans to request bail again at the next questioning of the witness for the prosecution.

Concerning the donation money for bail, Kanphat Singthong, another lawyer of Waen who had opened up an account for donations, said that the most recent total amount was one million and 50,000 baht. If the bail is approved, the rest of the money will be given to Waen as treatment fees and start-up funds.

The court has made an appointment to question the witness for the prosecution on 4 September 2018, also making an appointment with Associate Professor Suthini Rattanawara, Faculty of Law, Ramkhamhaeng University, as an expert witness concerning the message the prosecution accused Waen.

Waen rescused a victim of the 2010 Massacre