The Khon Kaen Military Court conducted an arraignment for a plea of Mr. Jatupat Boonpataraksa aka Pai, a member of a northeastern student activist group Dao Din, in the case where he was arrested for staging an anti-coup protest in Khon Kaen Province on 22 May 2015. The court dismissed the defendant’s petition for acquitting the case, which claimed that the prosecution was done outside of the official hours on 19 August. The court also dismissed his petition for unconditional release. The court then examined the defendant’s testimony. Mr. Jatupat denied the charge and filed a petition for the release. The court finally released him on 10,000 baht bail. The court set an appointment for deposition of witnesses and evidence on 27 October 2016.
On 23 August 2016, at 12.30, Mr. Jatupat Boompatararaksa, member of the northeastern New Democracy Movement (NDM), was brought from Khon Kaen Central Prison to the Military Court at the Queen Sri Patcharin Military Base in Khon Kaen Province. He was to enter a plea on the case where he was arrested for anti-coup protest on 22 May 2015 at Democracy Monument in Amphoe Muang, Khon Kaen Province.
While waiting for the arraignment hearing, the officials did not allow people who came to give a moral support to Jatupat to enter the court area. The officials also searched the cars of the supporters at the Army Base’s checkpoint before getting through to the court. The authorities forbade those who wore a T-shirt that read “The Commoners’ Party” to go inside the Army Base, citing the security issue. The officials later allowed some of the supporters to enter the court.
Around 14.00, the military adjudicators began the hearing. The military prosecutor filed the petition to amend the indictment to include that the defendant in this case is the same one in the black case no. 1370/2559 (The case of distributing leaflets on the referendum campaign) at Provincial Court of Phu Khiao, and request that the court shall give consecutive sentences after the sentence of the black case no. 1370/2559.
The military adjudicators later considered the petition filed by Mr. Jatupat’s lawyer to the military court on 20 August, which requested the acquittal of the case. The defendant’s lawyer argued that the case carried illegally since the prosecution was done outside of the official hours. And if the court sees that the first petition needs further witness examination, the lawyer would request Mr. Jatupat to be released during the trial, according the Article 71 clause three and Article 110 clause two of the Criminal Procedure Code, and also due to the low punishment of the case. Furthermore, Mr. Jatupat has fallen ill from holding hunger strike while being remanded in a prison under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Court of Phu Khiao. The defendant also has to attend university, therefore, the lawyer requested the defendant to be released unconditionally.
The military prosecutor clarified to the court that the reason the prosecution took place outside of the office hours was due to the inconvenience. However, he had been informed by the inquiry officers that they would bring him to the court since 13.00 on Friday 19 August 2016, and had informed the court the intention to prosecute the defendant.
The court viewed that the military prosecutor had actually informed and coordinated with the court regarding the prosecution. The court also viewed that there was no clause that forbids prosecution to take place outside the official hours. The prosecution was therefore deemed appropriate.
In the point of the unconditional release, the defendant only had the photocopy of news articles to confirm that the defendant had sore throat and stomach pain, which was already cured by the doctor. The court deemed that the illness was not fatal were the defendant to be remanded. The court also had no procedures in releasing the defendant unconditionally. The military court, therefore, dismissed the defendant’s petition.
The military adjudicators later read out the indictment, stating that Mr. Jatupat and other six persons have acted in violation of the the Head of the NCPO Order No. 3/2015, (12) which bans any political gathering of five persons or more. The authorities have arrested Mr. Jatupat and other six persons after they gathered to protest against the junta with the banner that read “opposing the coup” at the Democracy Monument, Amphoe Muang, in Khon Kaen Province on 22 May 2015. It was considered a political gathering with more than five people which was not allowed by the NCPO.
Mr. Jatupat denied the charge and intended to defend the case. The defence lawyer requested for deposition to exhibit witnesses and evidence before the witness examination. The military court set an appointment to examine the list of evidence and witnesses on 27 October 2016.
After the hearing, Mr. Jatupat’s lawyer requested for temporary release with bond. The court has granted him temporary release with 10,000 baht bail in cash. He was released from Khon Kaen Central Prison around 16.45 on Tuesday 23 August 2016. He was greeted by his parents and the supporters who were waiting in front of the prison.