*Updated 7 April 2021
On 16 March 2021, the Court denied bail for eight defendants after their lawyers and family members filed for a temporary release during the inquiry and trial phases. The Court claimed there was no reason to overturn the original decisions. The eight defendants face trials for charges under Section 112 of the Criminal Code allegedly committed during the #19SeptemberReclaimThePowerToThePeople demonstration, the #MobFest rally on 14 November 2020 at the Democracy Monument, and the burning of King Rama X’s portrait in front of Klong Prem Central Prison.
For the case linked to the #19SeptemberReclaimThePowerToThePeople demonstration, the total number of eight people have been detained while awaiting trial, including Arnon Nampha, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, Patiwat “Mor Lam Bank” Saraiyaem, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa, Chai-amorn “Ammy” Kaewwiboonpan. The first four defendants have been detained during the trial period since 9 February 2021. Jatupat, Panusaya, and Panupong have been in custody since 8 March 2021. Meanwhile, Chai-amorn has been held during the inquiry phase for alleged involvement in the burning of King Rama X’s portrait since 3 March 2021.
Arnon, Patiwat, and Somyot had filed a bail request to the Court of First Instance five times, Parit had filed a bail request for six times, Panusaya had filed a bail request for three times and Panuphong had filed a bail request twice, after the Court denied bail when the public prosecutor ordered an indictment on the previous week. Today, the lawyer submitted the bail request with the sureties of 300,000 THB for each defendant – the amount drawn from the Ratsadonprasong (“The People’s Will”) Fund. For the case against Chai-amorn, the lawyer only proposed the surety of 35,000 THB because he only faces two main charges of “sedition” under the Criminal Code’s Section 116 and “illegal assembly of ten people or more” under the Criminal Code’s Section 215.
At around 7.00 pm, the Court delivered its ruling, denying bail for the eight defendants during the trial period. The Court indicated that Patiwat, Somyot, Parit, and Arnon were not granted bail by the Court of First Instance and the Court of Appeal, and Panupong, Panusaya, and Jatupat were not granted bail by the Court of First Instance. The Court further affirmed the rationale behind previous rulings that the defendants may re-offend by committing the same or similar harmful crimes following the temporary release. Therefore, the Court saw no reason to overturn the original decisions.
Regarding the bail denial for Chai-armon for the case on the #19SeptemberReclaimThePowerToThePeople demonstration, the Court stated that the defendant was arrested for a separate charge while trying to escape. This constituted a sufficient ground to show that the defendant has a high tendency to flee the lawsuit or re-offend by committing the same or similar harmful crimes following the temporary release. Therefore, the Court decided to dismiss the bail request.
Furthermore, the Court provided an additional explanation in its order to deny bail for Arnon Nampha, stating, “With regards to the claimant’s statement that Defendant No. 2 [Arnon Nampha] may face life-threatening harms if he is not granted bail, the Court does not view such a statement as a valid reason for allowing the temporary release. Also, the Court has set up a separate investigation on this matter; therefore, there is no reason to overturn the original decision.”
The claim about Anon’s fate stemmed from correctional officers’ attempts to detain Jatupat and Panupong outside their prison units on 15 March 2021. The guards tried to bring the defendants out of their units four times in the middle of the night, claiming they would be taken for Covid-19 testing. Such action is suspicious because it is not the prison’s protocol to bring detainees out of their units after midnight. The officials who approached them on that night also were not wearing name tags, thus triggering the defendants’ fears that the officials might be trying to hurt or kill them.
Apart from the #19SeptemberReclaimThePowerToThePeople demonstration, the lawyer and family members also requested bail for Parit while awaiting trial for charges under Section 112 of the Criminal Code from the #MobFest rally held on 14 November 2020 and for Chai-amorn while undergoing inquiry for his alleged involvement in the burning of King Rama X’s portrait. However, the Court also dismissed these requests, denying bail for both for similar reasons.
Notably, Chanathip Muangpawong was the judge who signed every order to deny all bail requests.
The Court orders the correctional department to protect the rights of the detainees
On 29 March 2021 around 11.00 am., the Criminal Court read the order pertaining to Arnon’s claims of life-threatening harms in the prison. After reviewing the circumstances, the Court found no ulterior motive behind the visits from the correctional officers. However, as Arnon et al. had already undergone 3 COVID-19 tests before relocated to Bangkok Remand Prison, the attempt to conduct another COVID-19 testing in the middle of the night was deemed rushed and unnecessary. The Court also mentioned that the COVID-19 prevention and control measures during the inter-prison transfer were efficient enough to keep the prisoners safe. With this rationale, the Court believed that there was no need to disturb the claimant et al. by removing them from their units, or conducting another COVID-19 test before sunrise. Although the action of the correction officers did not directly violate the laws, it manifested inconsideration and lack of respect towards the prisoners’ right to rest time.