Military court grants bail to “Siraphop” after almost five years in prison

On 11 June 62 the Bangkok Military Court granted permission to bail Mr. Siraphop (undisclosed surname), a prisoner in a Section 112 (lèse-majesté) case with 500,000 Baht bail fee after a nearly five-year long imprisonment in a case which has been closed to the public for its entirety. Siraphop was released from the Bangkok Remand Prison at approximately 19.00 hrs.

On 10 June 2019, there was an examination of the plaintiff witnesses with regard to Mr. Siraphop’s prosecution under Section 112 of the Criminal Code and Computer Act BE 2550, Section 14 (3) for having written poems and online posts.  These included three posts, one published on the Prachathai web-board in 2009 and two more published on a blog and personal Facebook page in 2013 and 2014.

During the witness cross-examination, the plaintiff’s third witness, a member of the general public, gave his observations after reading the posts. This witness was examined by the Military Prosecutor since March 2, 2018. This prosecutor has postponed witness examinations for a total of four court appointments over the course of a year as the witnesses had repeatedly failed to attend court until this date.

A remaining seven witnesses for the plaintiff and three witnesses for the accused.  The military court has again rescheduled the witness for the plaintiff’s examination for 28 June and 8 July 2019.

After Monday’s witness examination Siraphop’s lawyer and relatives submitted their eighth request for a temporary release with a fee of 500,000 Baht and attached the opinion of the United Nation (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the United Nations (WGAD).  The opinion stated that Mr. Siraphop’s detention was arbitrary and contrary to international laws to which Thailand is state party, and contrary to the principle of fair trial. The WGAD called for his immediate release (read more here). The next day the military court issued an order granting Siraphop’s temporary release.

Mr. Siraphop (undisclosed surname), aged 55 years, is engaged in construction work and writes poetry and political articles online. He was detained in the Bangkok Remand Prison from July 2014 until now for nearly five years. The military court still considers his a secret case, meaning third parties cannot attend court trials.

The Bangkok Military Court has refused bail seven times, the last two times in April and November 2018. Relatives filed for bail with 500,000 Baht but the Military Court refused to grant it, claiming that Mr. Siraphop was a flight risk due to the high penalty for his alleged charge.  He was finally released on bail on Tuesday 11 June, bringing his total time of imprisonment throughout the trial to four years, eleven months and eleven days, or a total of 1,807 days.

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