German Embassy protesters’ hearing postponed

The public prosecutor has postponed until 13 May 2021 the hearing of 13 people involved in the protest in front of the German Embassy in Bangkok on 26 October 2020, as the prosecutor has yet to finish the paperwork needed to file the case against the protesters.

Three of the accused activists answer journalists' questions after their meeting with the public prosecutor. From left: Athapol Buapat, Benja Apan, and Patsaravalee Tanakitvibulpon.

The group is facing royal defamation charges under Section 112 of the Criminal Code for either reading a statement or giving speeches during the protest, in which they submit a petition calling for the German authorities to investigate King Vajiralongkorn’s use of power during his time in Germany.

In addition to the royal defamation charge, several among the 13 protesters are also charged with sedition under Section 116 of the Criminal Code.

Student activist Patsaravalee Tanakitvibulpon said before going to meet with the public prosecutor that she is still confident, especially after last night’s protest at the Ratchaprasong intersection, where she gave a speech calling for monarchy reform.

Patsaravalee said she is encouraged by the people who joined the previous night’s protest and said she would keep fighting even if she was detained pending trial. She also added after leaving the prosecutor’s office that she is not worried about facing more charges as she believes what she said is possible within the bounds of freedom of expression in a democratic system.

Meanwhile, Benja Apan, another accused student activist and a member of the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD), said that they will keep calling for justice for themselves and their friends who have been detained due to their participation in protests.

Athapol Buapat, another leading figure in the pro-democracy protests and one of the accused, said that the postponement is somehow a good sign because they can still participate in the movement. He then called on the judicial authorities to safeguard justice in this country.

Benja, Patsaravalee, and Athapol also said during a press conference after they left the prosecutor’s office that even though their hearing has been postponed, around 20 people are currently being detained on royal defamation and other charges, and that they are worried about student activist Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, who is currently being detained pending trial and is fasting in protest at the court’s denial of bail for detained activists.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), at least 77 people are facing royal defamation charges for their involvement in recent protests, 6 of whom are minors. Several protest leaders are also facing several counts, such as Parit, who is facing 20 counts, Anon Nampa, who is facing 12 counts, and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, who is facing 9 counts.

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