Protesters arrested, denied bail for contempt of court

Two women were arrested last Thursday (25 August) and subsequently denied bail on charges of contempt of court, defamation, and using a sound amplifier without permission. The charges stemmed from a protest in front of the South Bangkok Criminal Court on 15 July to demand the right to bail for detained activists.

Ngoentra Khamsaen (left) and Chiratchaya Sakunthong (right)

Ngoentra Khamsaen, or Mani, and Chiratchaya Sakunthong, or Ginny, were arrested during the night of 25 August on warrants issued by the South Bangkok Criminal Court on a request from Yannawa Police Station, but were taken to the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, which is outside the jurisdiction of Yannawa police. They also did not receive a summons before being arrested.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said that Ngoentra and Chiratchaya were charged with contempt of court, defamation, and using a sound amplifier without permission when speaking at a protest in front of the South Bangkok Criminal Court on 15 July to demand the right to bail for detained activists. In their speeches, they criticized judges in the South Bangkok Criminal Court for rulings made in the case of monarchy reform activists Nutthanit Duangmusit and Netiporn Sanesangkhom, who were detained pending trial on royal defamation charges at the time. Their speech was also broadcast live online.

The complaints against them were filed by Netiphan Somchit, acting on behalf of judge Santi Chukitsappaisan, Research Justice of the Supreme Court, temporarily acting as the Deputy Chief Justice of the South Bangkok Criminal Court.

Ngoentra and Chiratchaya were held overnight at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau before being taken to the South Bangkok Criminal Court for a temporary detention request on Friday morning (26 August). They were then denied bail on the grounds that their actions were very dangerous to the court and the justice system, since they were rude and accused judges of things that were not true in order to pressure the court, which the court sees as a disregard for the law and an intention to create hatred against it. The charges also carry a severe penalty and the court said that they might tamper with evidence or flee if released.

Ngoentra and Chiratchaya are 2 of 31 people currently held in detention pending trial or pending appeal on charges relating to participation in the pro-democracy movement and currently the only ones detained for contempt of court.

In addition to those detained in prison, activists Tantawan Tuatulanon and Sophon Surariddhidhamrong are now prohibited from leaving their homes without court permission other than for a medical emergency as one of their bail conditions. 

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