According to TLHR, as of 20 February 2023, at least 3 people were detained for their political expressions or for politically motivated reasons.
Eleven political detainees from 2022 spent the passing of the year in jail. Four of them requested bail at least 18 times, whereas 3 were detained during trial for more than 300 days.
Since April 2022, Kathathorn and Kongpetch (last names withheld), who were arrested for the possession of explosives while on the way to attend the 12th anniversary of the dispersal of Red Shirt’s demonstrations on 10 April 2022, were detained for the longest time in 2022 without the right to bail, for more than 302 days.
The statistics show that the duo had been applying for bail throughout 2022. As of 6 February 2023, they had applied for bail at least 16 times. In their first bail request, the Criminal Court rejected their request, stating that: “After consideration it is held that the offense with which the two are charged is a serious offense with high penalty. Afraid that the accused may flee, the Court does not permit temporary release. The request is rejected.”
Ever since the first bail denial, the Court has continuously issued orders rejecting Kongpetch’s and Kathathorn’s bail requests. Almost all of the orders stated: “There is no reason to modify the original order”.
On 9 February 2023, in Kongpetch’s case, the Criminal Court modified its order after Kongpetch’s mother applied for bail on her son’s behalf as well as submitted a document regarding Kongpetch’s educational status. The order stated: “After consideration, because the defendant was 18 years old at the time of the incident, was at Vocational Certificate Level 3, and has a proper place of residence, the Court believes that, if released, the defendant would not flee or interfere with the evidence. Therefore, the defendant is granted bail at the trial stage, with a surety of 100,000 baht and the defendant must wear an EM bracelet.”
Kongpetch was released from prison on 10 February 2023. This marked the end to his detention from the investigative to the trial stage, which lasted 306 days or almost 10 months.
However, in the same case, the Court still did not issue an order granting bail to Kathathorn. His lawyer had applied for bail more than 18 times. On 20 February 2023, the lawyer submitted an appeal against the Criminal Court’s bail denial. In the late afternoon of the same day, the Appeal Court issued an inquiry order into Kathathorn’s behavior. The order stated: “The probation officer shall report the findings of the inquiry to the Court in 15 days. The officer shall inquire into the defendant’s educational and occupational background before the incident, as well as the overall circumstances of the case.” Accordingly, Kathathorn remains in detention as the inquiry is ongoing.
On 10 February 2023, the Criminal Court issued an order granting bail to Sombat Thongyoi, a lèse-majesté detainee. This order came after the Court of First Instance delivered its judgment and the Appeal Court denied bail more than 11 times. On 8 February 2023, in response to Sombat’s 12th bail request, the Supreme Court issued an order granting bail to him.
Notwithstanding this order, Sombat was not immediately released from prison as the Appeal Court had not granted bail to him in a separate case concerning defamation against Prayut. The verdict in that case was delivered on 31 January 2023. On the day of the Supreme Court’s granting of bail in the lèse-majesté case, Sombat’s lawyer submitted another bail request in the defamation case to the Appeal Court, whose holding was opposite of that of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, in the lèse-majesté case, held that “the defendant is not a flight risk and so he should be granted temporary release while his case is on appeal.” The Bangkok South Criminal Court, in the defamation case, ordered that the bail request be sent to the Appeal Court for consideration.
On 9 February 2023, the Appeal Court issued an order granting bail to Sombat in the defamation case. The order stated, inter alia: “That the Supreme Court issued an order granting permission [to grant bail] in another case means there is a change in circumstances. The Court therefore grants temporary release [in this case], with a surety of 70,000 baht in cash which would be confiscated in the event that the bail agreement is violated.” Consequently, in the evening of the day of this order, Sombat was released from Bangkok Remand Prison, marking the end of his detention which lasted 288 days or more than 9 months.
Pornpot Jaengkrajang, who was detained since 12 April 2022 after Kathathorn and Kongpetch on the same grounds, was accused of being involved in the event in which a group of people threw ping pong bombs to the grass field in front of the 1st Infantry Regimen. Pornpot reported himself to Mueang Pitsanulok Police Station.
Since the date of his surrender, Pornpot had been in detention. The lawyer has requested bail for him at least 12 times. However, the Criminal Court has been consistently denying his bail requests.
On 19 February 2023, the Court issued an order granting bail to Pornpot in this case. However, Pornpot was subjected to detention order in 2 other cases, which are the “13Oct21 Mob” case and another case concerning explosives in connection with demonstrations at Din Daeng.
On 20 February 2023, the Criminal Court and the Bangkok South Criminal Court issued orders granting bail to Get, Baipor, and Pornpot without requiring them to wear EM. In the “13Oct21 Mob” case, the surety was set at 50,000 baht. In the other case, the surety was set at 100,000 baht.
Tatphong ‘Nack’ Keawkao was arrested at the background checkpoint before entering a secured area of the APEC summit on 16 November 2022. Nack was brought to be charged with possession of explosives and weapons during the ThaluGas protests on Ratchaprarop Road on 21 November 2021.
Nack was detained at the investigative stage and bail requests were submitted on his behalf at least 10 times. He was eventually released on 8 February 2023 after 7 rounds of detention, which was the legal limit on period of detention under the law.
Moreover, in cases involving protesters from ThaluGas in June 2022, more than 12 protesters spent several months at Bangkok Remand Prison for their participation at Din Daeng intersection in an activity calling for the resignation of Prayuth Chan-o-cha on 11, 14, and 15 June 2022. Later, the Appeal Court granted bail to 8 of them on 29 September 2022. The other four, including Nattaphon, Watcharaphon, Jatuphon, and Phalaphon, remained in detention.
On 16 February 2023, after the Court ordered an inquiry into the 4 defendants’ educational and occupational background, it concluded that they were not a flight risk. It issued an order: “After considering the inquiry report from the probation officer, the Court grants bail to all defendants with a surety of 70,000 baht for each person and requires them to wear EM.”
This order marked the end of the detention of the 4 Thalugas activists. These 4 activists are a group with the highest number if bail requests submitted on their behalf in 2022—that is, at least 18 times. They were detained for more than 240 days, starting between 14 and 17 April 2022. Witness examination in their case will start on 25-26 April 2023.
Bail Requests during the Dry Hunger Strike of Tawan, Bam, and Sitthichoke between 17 January and 20 February 2023.
Since 18 January 2023, the court has been issuing orders rejecting political detainees’ bail requests, despite Tawan and Bam’s self-revocation of bail and dry hunger strike in order to insist on their three demands: 1) justice system reform and the right to bail, 2) ending prosecution against political activists, and 3) political parties must adopt a policy to repeal Sections 112 and 116. Sitthichoke, who was convicted of lèse-majesté and sentenced to a jail term of 2 years and 4 months, also participated in a hunger strike since the first day of his detention on 17 January 2023 to demand for the right of bail for political detainees.
Later on, the Supreme Court granted bail to Sitthichoke on 10 February 2023. The order stated: “After consideration, the Court of First Instance did not impose a very high prison sentence on the defendant. The defendant was also granted temporary release before and is not a flight risk. The Court therefore grants bail as the case is on appeal with a surety of 130,000 baht.”
In the case of Get and Baipor, the Criminal Court granted bail to them as well as Pornpot on 20 February 2023. The Court imposed the following bail conditions: “must not engage in acts that are of the similar nature of manner as the ones of which they have been accused, engage in activities that may cause unrest in the society, or engage in acts that cause damage to the institution of the monarchy during the period of temporary release. The defendants must report themselves to the Court every 15 days in the next 3 months until the Court modifies the order.”
On this day, the total bail amount was 630,000 baht, which came from the Will of the People Fund (Ratsadornprasong Fund). This bail order marked the end of detention of the 3 political detainees. Pornpot was detained for 315 days while Get and Baipor were detained for 43 days.
Since 18 January 2023, TLHR has been collecting data on the granting and denials of bail of political activists. The details are as follows:
Data as of 22 February 2023
|Name of Detainee||Status||Number of bail requests submitted||Total||Remarks|
|Watcharaphon, Jatuphon, Phalaphon, Natthaphon||Detained during trial||Criminal Court: 5|
Appeal Court: 1
|6||Bail granted on 20 February 2023.|
|Kongpetch||Detained during trial||Criminal Court: 6|
Appeal Court: 1
|7||Bail granted on 9 February 2023|
|Tatpong Keawkao||Detained during investigation||Criminal Court: 5|
Appeal Court: 1
|6||Detention reached 84 days (legal maximum at investigative stage) on 8 February 2023|
|Aek (alias)||Detained during trial||Criminal Court: 4||4||Bail granted on 3 February 2023 6|
|Pornpot jaengkrajang||Detained during trial||Criminal Court: 4||4||Bail granted on 20 February 2023|
|Sonbat Thongyoi||Detained during appeal||Appeal Court: 3||3||Bail granted on 9 February 2023|
|Sitthichoke Setthasawet||Detained during appeal||Appeal Court: 4||4||Bail granted on 10 February 2023 (hunger strike for 25 days)|
|Ukrit Santiprasitkun||Detained during appeal||Appeal Court: 2 Supreme Court: 1||3||Bail granted on 4 February 2023 6|
|Kathatorn||Detained during trial||Criminal Court: 8 Appeal Court: 2||10||Inquiry to be completed in 15 days|
|Get-Baipor||Detained during trial||Criminal Court: 2||2||Bail granted on 20 February 2023|
|Thiranai-Chaiporn||Detained during appeal||Appeal Court: 2||2||Appeal Court denied bail request|
We still need to continue to monitor Kathathorn’s (last name withheld) case. He has become a detainee who has been detained without the right to bail for the longest time in the year—i.e., more than 300 days.
As for Thiranai and Chaiporn, who were arrested as a result of their participation in the “29Aug21 Mob” and alleged possession of “ping pong bomb”, they were sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment on 15 February 2023 by the Criminal Court. Because they confessed to the crime, their sentence was therefore halved (i.e., 3 years). They were not granted bail as their case is on appeal.
The Court sent the bail request (dated 22 February 2023) to the Appeal Court for consideration, who later denied the bail request on 22 February 2023.