Protester sentenced to prison for symbolic courtroom action

A protester has been sentenced to 2 months in prison on a contempt of court charge for cutting his arm in court to protest the denial of bail for detained activists.

Joseph

Joseph (pseudonym) cut his arm in front of the judge as an act of protest during an evidence hearing on 11 October 2021 to protest the denial of bail for activists Anon Nampa and Benja Apan, both of whom are detained pending trial on royal defamation charges.

Joseph is one of the 13 protesters facing royal defamation and sedition charges under Section 112 and 116 of the Thai Criminal Code, as well as using a sound amplifier without permission under the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act for either reading a statement or giving speeches during the protest in front of the German Embassy in Bangkok on 26 October 2020, in which they submitted a petition calling for the German authorities to investigate King Vajiralongkorn’s use of power during his time in Germany. Joseph is facing charges for reading out a statement in English.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said that Joseph was charged with contempt of court for his action, and that the South Bangkok Criminal Court on Friday (17 December) sentenced him to 2 months in prison. He also received a 500-baht fine.

However, since he confessed and said to the court that his action was symbolic and that he has no intention of hurting anyone, the court reduced his sentence to 1 month in prison and a 250-baht fine. His sentence is also suspended for 6 months.  

Several activists have previously been charged with contempt of court for demanding the right to bail for detained activists. TLHR said that 26 people have been charged with contempt of court in 16 cases since July 2020. Of these cases, 14 resulted from protests demanding the right to bail for detained activists.

On 22 November, activists Parit Chiwarak, Panupong Jadnok, Sam Samat, Thanapat Kapeng, Panadda Sirimaskul, Thatchapong or Chatchai Kaedam, Phromsorn Weerathamjaree, Sirichai Natueng and Nutchanon Pairoj were found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to 10 days in jail by the Thanyaburi Provincial Court.

They were charged on 9 August for their role in a protest on 2 August 2021 to demand the release of 32 detained activists.

Parit, Panupong, and Sam are already being detained pending trial for other charges, while the remaining 6 individuals were released on 10,000-baht bail.

On 2 December 2021, Nutchanon was sentenced to 2 months in prison on another contempt of court change relating to a protest in front of the Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court on 30 April 2021 to demand the release of detained student activist Parit Chiwarak. He was released on 50,000-baht bail.

Nutchanon and Benja were previously sentenced to prison on another contempt of court charge stemming from a protest at the Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court on 29 April 2021 to demand the release of detained activists. Benja was sentenced to 6 months in prison – the highest possible sentence for the charge – while Nutchanon was sentenced to 4 months, but was released on bail using a 50,000-baht security.

Other than Benja and Nutchanon, 4 other activists are facing contempt of court charges for participating in the 29 April 2021 protest: Pattarapong Noipang, Shinnawat Chankrajang, Elia Fofi, and Pisitkul Kuantalaeng.

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