Mr Jatupat Boonpattaraksa, nicknamed Pai, 25, is a student at the Faculty of Law at Khon Kaen University, in Northeastern province Khon Kaen. He is also a member of the pro-democracy groups Dao Din and New Democracy Movement (NDM). Currently, Jatupat is charged with lèse-majesté under Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code and with offences under the Computer Crimes Act. Lt Col Phitakphon Chusri, Deputy Chief of Operations Directorate at the 33rd Army Circle in Khon Kaen province, filed a charge against Jatupat after he allegedly shared a BBC Thai article titled “Profile: Thailand’s new King Vajiralongkorn” and quoted an excerpt of the article on his Facebook page on 2 December 2016. The key dates and details of his legal proceedings are as follows:
|2 December 2016
Lt Col Phitakphon Chusri accused Jatupat of violating Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code (lèse-majesté) and offences under the Computer Crimes Act at the Khon Kaen Provincial Police Station.
|3 December 2016
Arrest – Plainclothes police from the Khon Kaen and Chaiyaphum Provincial Police Stations presented an arrest warrant to Jatupat and took him to the Police Training Center Region 4, instead of the Police Station, for investigation. The police appointed a lawyer for Jatupat and did not allow him to contact his family. Jatupat insisted he would appoint his own lawyers. The police therefore picked up one of Jatupat’s lawyers, who was waiting at the Khon Kaen Provincial Police Station, and took him to meet Jatupat.
|4 December 2016
1st custody term granted/1st bail application granted – The inquiry officer requested the Khon Kaen Provincial Court a pre-trial detention of Jatupat, citing the ongoing investigation and concerns over national security. The Court ordered Jatuapat’s remand until 15 December 2016, but later granted Jatupat provisional release on a 400,000 Baht (approx. 11,350 USD) bail with no conditions.
|15 December 2016
2nd custody term granted/ongoing bail – The Khon Kaen Provincial Court granted the police’s request for a second detention from 16 to 27 December 2016. The Khon Kaen Court continued to allow his bail.
|16 December 2016
Request for bail revocation order – The inquiry officer requested the Khon Kaen Provincial Court to revoke the bail agreement, saying that Jatupat had posted a message mocking the police on his Facebook page, which read: “the economy is so bad, and they want bail money.” In addition, police argued that Jatupat had committed several offences against national security and might tamper with evidence.
|22 December 2016
Bail revocation order granted – During a closed-door hearing, the Khon Kaen Provincial Court ruled in favor of the police’s request to revoke Jatupat’s bail. The court ruled that Jatupat had broken the bail conditions and had not deleted the alleged Facebook post. In addition, the Court said that Jatupat had acted in a manner that mocked the state power, disrespected the law and caused damage to the nation. Jatupat was then transported to Khon Kaen Prison.
2nd bail application denied – On the same day, Jatupat’s lawyers submitted a bail application to the Khon Kaen Provincial Court but the Court denied the bail.
|23 December 2016
Appealing the revocation order – Jatupat’s lawyers petitioned the Court of Appeals (Region IV) to have the Khon Kaen Provincial Court’s revocation order overturned. Further, they asked the Court of Appeals to grant Jatupat’s provisional release.
|27 December 2016
Court of Appeals’ decision – Via a video-link from prison, the Khon Kaen Provincial Court read the Court of Appeals’ decision to uphold the bail revocation order and dismissed Jatupat’s appeal. The verdict stated that Jatupat had not deleted the alleged Facebook post. The suspect had also acted in a manner that mocked the state power, disrespected the law and caused damage to the nation. The Court reasoned that, if released, Jatupat might tamper with evidence, cause more damage, or obstruct the ongoing investigation.
3rd custody term granted – Following the police’s request, the Khon Kaen Provincial Court also issued an order that extended Jatupat’s detention from 28 December 2016 to 8 January 2017, without bringing Jatupat before court to have a hearing and to ask whether he would object to the extended detention. In fact, Jatupat was not aware that the Court had already issued the detention order.
|28 December 2016
Pleading undue process – Jatupat’s lawyers petitioned the Khon Kaen Provincial Court over its failure to uphold due process in connection with their client’s detention extension the previous day. The lawyers stated that the court had not asked whether Jatupat had any objections before ordering the extension of his detention. The Court maintained that the issuance of the detention order did not amount to lack of due process. As a result the petition was dismissed.
Later, the Khon Kaen Court called Jatupat via a video-link and asked whether he wanted to object to his detention extension. Jatupat indicated that he had to sit for an examination on 17 – 18 January 2017, and objected to his remand. However, the Court upheld his remand.
|29 December 2016
Appeal the bail revocation to Supreme Court – Jatupat’s lawyers appealed the Court of Appeals’ decision and demanded the Supreme Court overturn the bail revocation order. The Khon Kaen Provincial Court refused to accept the motion, citing that the Court of Appeal’s ruling was final.
3rd bail application denied – Jatupat’s lawyers also submitted a bail application to the Khon Kaen Provincial Court, explaining that Jatupat was due to sit for a final exam. The Court denied Jatupat bail, reasoning that the Court of Appeals had previously, on 27 December, dismissed the motion to overturn the bail revocation order.
|30 December 2016
Challenging the Court of Appeals’ refusal – Following the Khon Kaen Provincial Court’s refusal to accept the appeal, Jatupat’s lawyers challenged the order. They argued that the Court’s refusal was not in accordance with the law.
|6 January 2017
Supreme Court’s ruling – During a closed-door hearing, the Khon Kaen Provincial Court read the Supreme Court’s ruling (dated 4 January) that dismissed Jatupat’s request to overturn the bail revocation order. The Supreme Court’s ruling upheld the decisions by the Court of Appeals and the Khon Kaen Provincial Court, and stated that the Court of Appeals’ ruling was final.
4th custody term granted/4th bail application denied – The Khon Kaen Provincial Court ordered the extension of Jatupat’s detention from 9 to 20 January. In addition, the Court rejected Jatupat’s bail application with increased surety, citing the Court of Appeals’ decision dated 27 December 2016.
|13 January 2017
5th bail application denied – Since Jatupat was due to sit a final exam on 17 – 18 January, his lawyers submitted another bail application with conditions that Jatupat would set the alleged Facebook post in question as ‘private’. However, the Khon Kaen Provincial Court refused to grant Jatupat a temporary release.
|16 January 2017
Jatupat’s lawyers submitted a request to the Khon Kaen Provincial Court to allow him temporarily out of the prison to take his exam by having prison officers taking him to Khon Kaen University and return to the Khon Kaen prison after the exam. The Court dismissed the request, reasoning that it was upon the prison to coordinate with the university and that Jatupat was not allowed to be on temporary release.
|17 – 18 January 2017
Jatupat was not allowed out to sit in a final exam to complete his degree.
|20 January 2017
5th custody term granted – The Khon Kaen Provincial Court approved the police request for an extension of Jatupat’s detention from 21 January to 1 February citing the ongoing investigation. The hearing was conducted behind closed doors. Jatupat objected to the closed-door hearing of his remand but the Court persisted. Jatupat refused to have his lawyers present in the court room, citing that he did not want anyone to endorse the Court’s unfair proceedings. Without the presence of Jatupat’s lawyers in the courtroom, the Court continued the remand hearing and granted the extension of another 12 days.
|1 February 2017
6th custody term granted – The Khon Kaen Provincial Court held a closed-door hearing for Jatupat’s 6th detention. The police stated that there was a new found evidence (a CD containing video from Jatupat’s cellphone), currently being examined by the Forensic Science Division. Further, the police decided to indict Jatupat and had submitted the case file to the Lèse-Majesté Screening Committee, Region IV (at the Royal Thai Police Headquarter), for consideration. The Committee will convene a meeting on 2 February. The Court then ordered to remand Jatupat from 2 – 11 February (ten days).
This is the fifth time the Khon Kaen Court ordered a closed-door pre-trial hearing. Despite Jatupat’s objection and the fact that he has not been officially indicted yet, the Court stated the same concerns over national security to uphold its order. Prior to the hearing, Jatupat’s mother cited the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the principles of presumption of innocence to challenge the due process. This followed with her repeatedly hitting her head against the courtroom’s wall. After the Khon Kaen Court persisted on closed-door hearing, Jatupat had his parents and lawyers leave the courtroom, leaving him only himself present for the hearing.
6th bail application denied – Jatupat later submitted a bail application to the Khon Kaen Court for the 6th time. However the Court denied his application.
|10 February 2017
Hearing for 7th custody term – The Khon Kaen Provincial Court sets to conduct a hearing of the police request to remand Jatupat for 7th detention. Note that, for offences with a maximum penalty of more than ten years, the courts can order no more than 7 pre-trial detention terms, for up to 12 days per detention term, with a maximum of 84 days in total.
The BBC Thai news article shared by Jatupat details information on Thai King Vajiralongkorn. The article was published on 1 December 2016 to mark the Thai Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn’s accession to the throne. It received a lot of public attention, with 27,000 likes and 2,600 shares on Facebook (2,800 shares before Jatupat’s arrest). On 6 December 2016, the article was blocked, during which time the authorities visited BBC Thai’s office in Bangkok. Despite sharing the article, Jatupat did not publish personal comments related to its content. Jatupat has been detained in the Khon Kaen Prison since 22 December 2016, and is subject to a maximum of 15 years’ imprisonment.
Human Rights organizations have expressed concerns over the violation of Jatupat’s rights to freedoms of opinion and expression as a result of his prosecution. A letter issued by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in response to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)’s complaint, asks that detention requests be made in “a proportionate and reasonable manner” in accordance with the presumption of innocence principle. Human Rights Watch urged the government to drop the charges against Jatupat. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders also urged the Thai authorities to immediately release Jatupat.
In August 2016, Jatupat was released on bail after 18 days of detention, 13 of which on a hunger strike, in connection with two different cases related to his participation in a peaceful anti-coup protests. Jatupat is facing two addition charges for participating in a coup commemoration event in May 2015 at the Khon Kaen Democracy Monument, and for joining a peaceful anti-coup protest in June 2015 at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok. Altogether, Jatupat is facing five different cases, three of which will be tried in a military court if indicted.
Despite its international obligations to protect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and the right to a fair trial, the Thai government has continued to prosecute dissenting individuals like Jatupat. Jatupat is an example of a pro-democracy activist who has faced ongoing judicial harassment as a result of his peaceful actions to oppose the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s administration and its staging of the coup in 2014.