Lawyers prevented from seeing detained activist

Lawyers are not being allowed to meet with activist Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattararaksa, who has been detained since Monday (9 August), claiming Covid-19 quarantine measures prevent it.

Jatupat Boonpattararaksa at Thung Song Hong Police Station (Picture from Jatupat's Facebook page)

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) filed a request yesterday (11 August) to the Director of the Central Special Treatment Centre to meet with Jatupat, after prison officers refused to let their lawyer meet with Jatupat, claiming that the Centre does not allow lawyers to meet their clients who are in quarantine to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The letter stated that lawyer Supanat Boonsod has been appointed Jatupat’s lawyer by court order and therefore has the legal right to meet and consult with his client, and so he is requesting to be allowed to meet with Jatupat as allowed by the Thai Criminal Procedure Code.

Jatupat was arrested after he surrendered himself at Thung Song Hong Police Station on Monday (9 August), along with Thawee Thiangwiset, another member of the activist group Thalufah. They were charged with violating the Emergency Decree, damaging public property, and taking part in an assembly of more than 10 people which caused a breach of public peace.

The charges are related to an incident on 3 August, in which activists splashed paint in front of Thung Song Hong Police Station following their release after spending a night in detention on charges relating to a protest at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau on 2 August to demand that the police return a speaker truck seized after the 1 August ‘car mob’ rally.

Thalufah member Songpol Sonthirak, who was at Khlong Ha Police Station to show support for another group of activists turning themselves in, was also arrested and taken to Thung Song Hong Police Station, while Nawapol Ton-ngam and Chitrin Plakangtong, two other members of the Thalufah group, were notified of the same charges while at Thung Song Hong Police Station to show support for their friends.

The inquiry officers did not detain Nawapol and Chitrin, but filed a request to temporarily detain Jatupat, Tawee, and Songpol, all of whom have arrest warrants. 

The Criminal Court later granted bail to Tawee and Songpol with 35,000 baht as security, but denied bail to Jatupat on the grounds that he faces other charges for similar offenses, has broken his bail conditions which prohibit him from repeating these offenses, and is likely to flee or cause danger if he is released.

The order to deny bail for Jatupat is signed by judge Chanathip Muanpawong, who previously denied bail to several pro-democracy activists detained pending trial earlier this year. Chanathip also sentenced Ampon Tangnoppakul, or “Uncle SMS,” to 20 years in prison on a royal defamation charge under Section 112 in 2011, after Ampon was accused of sending messages to Somkiat Krongwattanasuk, who was at the time the secretary of then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, which were deemed offensive to the King and Queen.

Parit Chiwarak and 2 other Thammasat University student activists reporting to the police headquarters (Picture from TLHR

TLHR also said that prison officers refused to let lawyers meet with activist Parit Chiwarak and 8 other activists detained at Rangsit Temporary Prison, claiming that the lawyers broke the rules by publishing a record of their meeting with the activists yesterday (10 August) on TLHR’s website. This caused concern about the wellbeing of the activists, and prevented the lawyers from consulting with the activists about their case.

The TLHR article claims that after the 9 activists refused to board a detention truck, they were dragged out by crowd control officers. The lawyers also said that the activists have bruises on their bodies. Parit’s face is swollen on one side. He has minor injuries on his wrists and ankles, and his glasses and shoes are missing, while Sirichai Natueng’s ankles are swollen, causing difficulty walking.

The lawyers also said that prison officers tried to prevent them from seeing the activists, claiming that visitation is only allowed after completion of a 21-day quarantine period, but the lawyers insisted on the grounds that they have to consult with the activists about the case.

They were finally allowed a meeting at 13.00, when they spoke to the activists via a video call. Several officers were also sitting behind the lawyers as they spoke to the activists, even though lawyers have the right to speak to their clients in private. Prison officers also tried to confiscate their notebooks and pens to prevent them from taking notes, and the lawyers had to insist that it is their right as lawyers to take notes of information relating to the case.

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