On 2 August 2017, the public prosecutor of Dusit District Prosecutor Office rescheduled Sirikan Charoensiri, aka ‘June’, human rights lawyer and legal and documentation specialist at Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), to hear indictment decision in the case where she was charged with concealing evidence and not complying with official orders. In another case, June reported to the police at Chanasongkhram police station in Bangkok to hear the charge against her for allegedly reporting false information in her allegation against police officers who illegally impounded her car in front of Bangkok Military Court.
At 09:30 am, Sirikan reported to the public prosecutor of Dusit District Prosecutor Office in Bangkok to hear indictment decision in a case filed against her following her alleged refusal to let the officials search her car at night without a warrant. Sirikan was charged with Sections 142 and 368 of the Thai Criminal Code for concealing evidence and refusing to comply with official orders, respectively. The prosecutor was scheduled to read the indictment decision, but instead postponed the reading to 9:30 am on 20 November 2017. This is the seventh postponement of the indictment decision after the case file had been proceeded to the prosecutor over a year ago. Officers from the European Union, along with officers from the embassies of Canada, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and the USA were present to show moral supports.
Later at 11:00 am, Sirikan reported to the police at Chanasongkram police station, Bangkok, to hear the charge of submitting a false report. Pol Col Suriya Chamongchoke accused Sirikan was charged with submitting a false report under Sections 172 and 174 of the Thai Criminal Code. The allegations against Sirikan stems from her accusing Pol Maj Gen Chayapol Chatchayadetch, Commander of the Metropolitan Police Bureau 6, of illegally impounding her car over night on the night of 26 – 27 June 2015.
The incident followed the officials having arrested 14 student activists of pro-democracy group New Democracy Movement for violating Section 116 of the Thai Criminal Code, sedition-like offence, and Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order no. 3/B.E.2558 (2015), which bans political gatherings of five or more persons. After arresting the students, Sirikan’s clients, Pol Maj Gen Chayapol ordered Sirikan to led police officers search her car parked in front of the court building, to confiscate her clients’ cellphones. Sirikan refused to consent to the warrantless search, given that the officers’ request was not met with a court warrant and there was no justifiable evidence to conduct a search at night. As a result, the police surrounded Sirikan’s car with fences and sealed all car door knobs with paper and gaffer tapes.. This caused Sirikan to guard her car, which contained the lawyers’ case files and personal computers, and mobile phones belonging to the students in front of the Court all night. Sirikan later had filed a lawsuit against the officers who impounded her car at Chanasongkram police station on 27 June 2015, which states that:
“Pol Maj Gen Chayapol Chatchayadetch was without reasonable ground or legal power to seize or impound the accuser’s vehicle under. This constitutes as malfeasance, as the seizure or impoundment of my vehicle without power bestowed under the Criminal Procedure Code. As a result, such practice is an official misconduct and causes damage to me in which I could not bring my vehicle and belongings out of the area and could not render use of my vehicle and belongings per usual, in violation of Section 157 of the Criminal Code.”
“Sections 132 (2) and 132 (4) of the Criminal Procedure Code render power to police officers to search for any article and to seize only articles that were discovered by the police. However, Pol Maj Gen Chayapol Chatchayadetch and others seized my vehicle and articles without a warrant issued by the Court. In addition, the seizure and impoundment of my vehicle was not recorded by the police. Such practice therefore is a malfeasance in office.”
Pol Col Suriya Chamongchoke alleged that the statement made by Sirikan was tantamount to reporting false information to the authorities and inflicting damage on Pol Maj Gen Chayapol and other officials per Sections 172 and 174 of the Thai Criminal Code.
Pol Maj Col Chomphunut Anantayakul, an inquiry official at Chanasongkhram police station, read the allegations to Sirikan. Sirikan denied all charges against her and stated that she would submit a written statement within 30 September 2017. Sirikan further requested the Royal Thai Police for another inquiry officer, citing that the accuser Pol Col Suriya and the affected party Pol Maj Gen Chayapol could affect the inquiry officer’s investigation, and that there was a conflict between Sirikan and Pol Maj Gen Chayapol since Sirikan had filed a lawsuit against him. Sirikan also requested the inquiry officer to suspend the investigation until the Royal Thai Police issues its decision. In this case, Sirikan will submit a letter to the Royal Thai Police through the Superintendent of Chanasongkhram police station within 15 days.
During the hearing of the charge, representatives from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) were present to observe the reporting. Officers from the European Union, the embassies of Canada, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and the USA, accompanied by observers from Amnesty International Thailand, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and iLaw were present outside the meeting room to show moral supports.
This lawsuit was filed against Sirikan along with another case where she was accused of concealing evidence. However, the inquiry officer could not indicate which part of the Sirikan’s report was false at the time. The summons for her was reissued on 7 July 2017. Sirikan will be tried in a civilian court in this case and concealing evidence case if indicted.
Sirikan is also charged with sedition-like offence under Section 116 of the Thai Criminal Code and Head of the NCPO Order no. 3/B.E.2558 (2015) banning political gatherings of five or more persons, for allegedly committed the same crimes as her clients – 14 student activists of New Democracy Movement (NDM). If indicted in this case, she will face a trial in a military court and face up to a maximum of seven years’ imprisonment.