34 pro-election activists granted unconditional release at courts’ order

The courts on Thursday (Feb 8) ordered the unconditional release of 34 pro-election demonstrators after they turned themselves in to police to acknowledge unlawful assembly charge.

Pathumwan police issued summons to a total of 39 pro-democracy demonstrators who joined the Jan 27 gathering at sky walk in Bangkok’s Pathumwan intersection to protest against the military government and to call for election to be held within this year.

Thirty-four of them, including the five core leaders, reported themselves to Pathumwan police Thursday morning to acknowledge the charges against them.

The five core leaders who include Netiwit Chotepatpaisarn, Ms Nuttaa Mahattana, Sukrit Piensuwan, Veera Somkwamkid and Sombat Boonngamanong were slapped with three charges: defying Public Assembly Act and NCPO head order 3/2558 and incitement of unrest in accordance with Section 116 of the Criminal Code.  

The 29 others were slapped with two charges: defying Public Gathering Act and NCPO order 3/2558.

After the questioning sessions at the Pathumwan police station, the 29 suspects were sent to Pathumwan District Court, while the five core leaders to the Bangkok South Criminal Court where the police sought the courts’ permission to postpone their indictment because the inquiry police officers were unable to charge them in court within 48 hours.

At the Pathumwan District Court, one of the 29 pro-election activists, Nopporn Namchiangtai, pleaded guilty to the charges against him. He was due to appear before the same court on March 8 to hear the verdict.

All the 29 suspects, including Nopporn, were ordered to be released unconditionally.  But the 28 suspects will have to appear before the court at a later date yet to be set.

For the five core leaders, the police inquiry officers opposed their bail request, claiming that they planned to hold another demonstration on Saturday (Feb 10) during which they might stir up troubles.

The court, however, rejected police’s request to detain the five suspects, reasoning that they reported themselves to the police, showed no intention to flee, and gave full cooperation with authorities. The court then ordered the release of the five. 

Three other core leaders namely Rangsiman Rome, Sirawith Seritiwat and Anont Nampa are yet to report themselves to the police inquiry officers to acknowledge the charges against them.  

Mr Rangsimman has reportedly asked to turn himself in on Feb 16 while Mr Sirawith claimed he was busy with an urgent business.  But both have vowed to demonstrate this coming Saturday at about 4 pm at the Democracy Monument.  They have urged participants to wear black as a gesture of protest against the junta.