7 activists indicted, denied bail for Democrat Party protest

7 activists from the activist group Thalufah were denied bail on Tuesday (19 July), after the public prosecutor decided to indict them on charges relating to a protest at the Democrat Party headquarters on 30 July 2021.

Activists splashed paint onto a banner in front of the Democrat Party headquarters during the protest on 30 July 2021. (Photo from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights)

During the 30 July 2021 protest, activists went to the Democrat Party headquarters to demand that it leave the government coalition. They splashed paint in front of the headquarters, attached stickers and pieces of paper to the gates, and burned a straw effigy of Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha.

10 activists were charged with joining an assembly of more than ten persons and causing a breach of public peace, not dispersing when ordered to do so by an official, damaging property, trespassing by an act of violence, using a sound amplifier without permission, and violating regulations under the Emergency Decree by staging a public assembly risking the spread of Covid-19. The complaint against them was filed by Democrat Party spokesperson Ramet Rattanachaweng.

On Tuesday (19 July), the public prosecutor decided to indict 9 of the 10 activists. Since Nawapol Tonngam, one of the activists charged, did not attend the hearing because he tested positive for Covid-19, the public prosecutor has yet to indict him.

Of the 9 activists indicted, 7 were later denied bail by the Criminal Court on the ground that they are likely to cause further damage since they have previously been prosecuted in the Criminal Court: Saksit Phuakpongsri, Katanyu Muenkhamruang, Chitrin Phalakantrong, Thawee Thiangwiset, Chatchai Phrailin, Thotsama Somchit, and Kridsana Martviset.

Saksit, Jittrin, Chatchai, and Kridsana are now detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison, while Katanyu and Thotsama are detained at the Women Correctional Institution.

Meanwhile, Songphon Sonthirak and Jetsadaphon Phophet were granted bail using a security of 35,000 baht each, covered by the Will of the People Fund, a bail fund for those prosecuted for participating in the pro-democracy movement. The Court set the conditions that they must not repeat their offences and must appoint a supervisor to whom they must report every 15 days. 

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that the judge issuing the order denying bail for the 7 activists did not sign the order. 

31 political prisoners now detained

The denial of bail for the 7 Thalufah activists and for a man named Boonma, who is being detained pending appeal after he was convicted for violating the Computer Crimes Act after he was accused of running an anti-monarchy Facebook page, brought the number of political prisoners currently detained in Thai prisons to 31.

Of this number, 5 people are detained on royal defamation charges:

  1. Private Methin (pseudonym), 22, a soldier detained at the 11th Military Circle Prison since 19 March 2022 after he was accused of mentioning King Vajiralongkorn while arguing with another person who hit his motorcycle with their car. TLHR reported that Methin was held at the 11th Military Circle for 30 days while facing disciplinary action, before being arrested by officers from Bangbuatong Police Station and detained at the military prison.
  2. Nutthanit, 20, an activist from the monarchy reform activist group Thaluwang. She has been detained pending trial on charges of royal defamation, sedition, and refusing to comply with an officer’s order filed against her for conducting a public poll on royal motorcades in February 202 She has been denied bail 7 times and has been on a hunger strike for 50 days to demand the right to bail.
  3. Netiporn, 26, another activist from the monarchy reform activist group Thaluwang. She is detained on the same charges as Nutthanit, has been repeatedly denied bail, and is also on a hunger strike to demand the right to bail.
  4. Sombat Thongyoi, a former Red Shirt protest guard sentenced to 6 years in prison on charges of royal defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act over 3 Facebook posts he made in 2020. Sombat has been detained pending appeal at the Bangkok Remand Prison since 28 April 2022.
  5. Pornchai Yuanyee, a Thalufah activist, who was accused of burning a royal ceremonial arch in front of Ratchawinit School during a protest on 19 September 2019. He has been detrained pending trial at the Bangkok Remand Prison since 7 July 2022.

TLHR reported that 3 detainees are now on a hunger strike to demand the right to bail. Other than Nutthanit and Netiporn, Theerawit, a protester detained during investigation on charges relating to a protest at Din Daeng Intersection on 11 June 2022, has also been on a hunger strike since 18 June. Meanwhile, Phalaphon, another protester detained during investigation on charges relating to the 11 June 2022 protest, protested against his detention by attempting to overdose on paracetamol and is now being treated for a kidney inflammation at the Medical Correctional Institution.

Two other protesters detained on the same charges as Theerawit and Phalaphon, Baibun and Phutiphong, along with Nueng, a protester detained on charges relating to a protest at Din Daeng on 14 June 2022, have cut themselves to protest their detention. They had been admitted to the Medical Correctional Institution after testing positive for Covid-19, and TLHR said they are being treated as psychiatric patients.

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