16 coal-fired power plant protesters prosecuted 

Songkhla provincial prosecutor on Friday (Jan 12) formally prosecuted 16 people who took part in a long-march to protest against a coal-fired power plant project in Thepha district last November. 

The 16 protest leaders were accused of resisting arrest, injuring state authorities, obstructing traffic, carrying weapons in public areas and violating the Public Assembly Act.

About 100 local people joined the long march, starting on Nov 24, from the project site in Tambon Pak Bang, Thepha district to Muang district of Songkhla covering a distance of 75 kilometres.

The 16 protest leaders were arrested after the protesters tried to breach police cordon to submit their petition to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha who was scheduled to visit Kao Seng fishing community in Songkhla’s Muang district during a mobile cabinet meeting trip on Nov 27.

Named as first defendant in the prosecution was Mr Ekachai Isarata.

The court has accepted the prosecution and ordered all the 16 defendants to appear at the court on Monday (Jan 15) to hear the charges.

Meanwhile the Songkhla-Pattani Anti-Coal Network has issued a statement calling on the state to drop all charges against the 16 protesters, reasoning that they only exercised the constitutional rights to protect their communities.

They also asked the prime minister to revise the plan to build the coal-fired power plant and listen to opinions of local people affected by the project.

Prosecution of the protesters would only make the conflict further deepened.

According to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat), the 1,100-megawatt Thepha Power Plant is expected for commercial operational date in 2022.