Pro-democracy protester Phromsorn ‘Fah’ Weerathamjaree has been released from Thanyaburi prison after almost 2 months in detention and a hunger strike. This follows similar releases of other protestors.
Phromsorn reunites with friends after being released.
He was released at around 15.00 and met his friends and lawyer. His mother was supposed to submit a bail request, but due to her sudden illness, the lawyer had to take her place.
According to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), the Court of Appeal Region 1 allowed bail with security of 200,000 baht, with the condition that Phromsorn wears an Electronic Monitoring (EM) bracelet, does not tamper with evidence and does not commit similar offences to the one he is charged with.
An EM bracelet being worn at Phromsorn's heel.
Phromsorn said he is happy to be released but also sad to know that his mother suffered a stroke. He said that he would not stay quiet about what he had seen of the inequality in the judicial system from his experience in prison.
“I don’t want any parent to suffer any illness or stress or pressure over their children coming out to speak the truth and expressing their politics.
“I was inside but what I know for sure is that the people outside have suffered severely. We have run into these problems time and time again with our country having a government unable to administer anything.”
Phromsorn also said that more budget should be allocated to improve the wellbeing of inmates, wardens and the prisons themselves instead of being concentrated on judges and the courts.
This bail request was the fifth. The court previously denied bail, giving as reasons the seriousness of the charge, the heavy penalty, the fact that the accused committed similar offences after previously being allowed bail, and concerns that the accused would flee.
Phromsorn was originally due to be released on 11 May (Tuesday). TLHR tweeted that Thanyaburi Court said that the EM bracelet has to be set up on a working day. However, the decision changed and the EM bracelet was set up a day earlier.
Phromsorn was known as a talented public speaker and later joined Ratsadon Mutelu, a group of political activists that address structural problems via acts of sorcery. He was charged with royal defamation under Section 112 of the Criminal Code because of a speech in front of Thanyaburi Provincial Court on 14 January 2021.
His case is a significant example of the bizarre judicial process facing pro-democracy protesters. He was suddenly taken to court for a temporary detention hearing after appearing at a police station on 17 March to hear the charges against him. This was 2 days after he was injured in a traffic incident.
Sasinan Thamnithinan, a TLHR lawyer who had accompanied Phromson to the police station, posted on Facebook an account of the sudden police move. The post explained that although Phromson had come to the station with his injuries to demonstrate that he had no intention to flee, the Deputy Superintendent suddenly decided, after the regular investigation stage, to take him to court before the court closed.
Sasinan questioned the police decision because if a detention request was planned, the appointment at the station would be for the morning instead of the afternoon. The police also expressed uneasiness at her attempt to consult Phromson over this sudden turn of events. The station Superintendent gave them 2 minutes to consult in private.
Phromsorn then staged a hunger strike to protest against his deprivation of the right to be bailed, as had Panusaya Sitthijirawattanakul, who was released last week, and Parit Chiwarak, who awaits a court decision on another bail request on 11 May.
Phromsorn is among 3 protesters who have been released from detention in recent days, following Wanwalee Thammasattaya and Hathairat Kaewseekram on Friday and Siraphop Phumphuengphut on Sunday. Among these, only Hathairat is not charged with royal defamation.