“An academic forum is not a military camp” case dismissed; court rules law no longer exists to charge 5 defendants

On 25 Dec 2018 at 9 am, the Chiang Mai District Court read the verdict in the case over the sign reading “An academic forum is not a military camp” displayed at the International Conference on Thai Studies held in Chiang Mai on 18 July 2017. The 5 defendants were charged by military officers of violating NCPO Head Order No. 3/2015, Section 12, banning political assemblies or gatherings of 5 or more persons. NCPO Head Order No. 22/2018 of 11 Dec 18 has since revoked the Order that the 5 defendants were accused of violating.

Earlier on 6-7 Dec 2018, 6 prosecution witnesses were questioned with 4 more still to be heard. But on 12 Dec 2018, NCPO Head Order No. 22/2018 led to the Court ordering the end of all witness hearings, in anticipation of a ruling in accordance with the new Order. At the time, the 5 defendants informed the Court that they wished to be questioned to prove their innocence and present the effects of becoming suspects in this case (see previous news).

Prosecution of peaceful expression at an academic conference

Biographies of the Five Defendants

On 25 Dec 2018, the Chiang Mai District Court ruled that NCPO Head Order No. 22/2018 Section 1 (7) revoked NCPO Head Order No. 3/2015 Section 12, under which the defendants were accused. This was now a case where a later legal provision meant that the actions being prosecuted were not unlawful. According to Article 2, Paragraph 2, of the Criminal Code, because the actions of the 5 defendants are not unlawful, the case is dismissed according to Article 185, Paragraph 1, of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The Court also ruled that all judicial procedures, operations or actions taken according to earlier announcements or orders are not affected so as to become null or unlawful, according to NCPO Head Order No. 22/2018.

Nevertheless, Article 2 of NCPO Head Order No. 22/2018 states that “the revocation of announcements and orders under Article 1 does not affect the judicial procedures, operations or actions under announcements or orders before the revocation by this order”.

The ruling of the Chiang Mai District Court today means the end of the case after the 5 defendants had to fight for their innocence for 1 year and 4 months.


Source: Thai Lawyer For Human Rights - TLHR