BANGKOK — Though his own case reached its end Wednesday inside the same building he was charged with defacing, a punk musician said the injustice which motivated him is unchanged.
A year after his arrest, 23-year-old Nattaphol Khemngern was fined 4,500 baht and received a two year suspended sentence for painting an anarchy symbol on a sign in front of the Criminal Court. But the musician’s bid for justice for a former bandmate shot dead by a military officer in February, 2015, remains out of reach.
“My case came after, but it was done,” Nattaphol said Wednesday. “But my bro’s case took more than a year now and is still in progress.”
Paraded in front of the press May 26, 2015, Natthaphol said he painted the Circle-A symbol to campaign for his friend’s murder case after it went nowhere following the arrest of the soldier accused of killing him in the capital’s Bang Khen district.
At the time his vandalism was widely misreported as representing “Captain America.”
Yutthana Sripradit, 25, who played with Nattaphol in their band Drunk All Day, which raged against injustice, was shot dead Feb, 8, 2015, on Phahonyothin Road by a gunman in a black car. Pfc. Watcharaphong Choorat, a military officer from the 11th Military Circle, was arrested two days later.
Natthapol’s arrest generated public sympathy for the cause he was trying to bring attention to, and the case was later taken before a military tribunal where it has since languished.
“They said the case would move faster under the military court,” said Nattaphol. “But why does everything seem to be slower instead? We cannot inquire about anything. They use a military prosecutor.”
Today’s court judgment was on appeal of a July verdict under which the court gave Nattaphol the maximum sentence of two years in jail for damaging public property. Another charge of contempt brought by the courts was quickly rendered with another suspended sentence.
In addition to the suspended sentence, Nattaphol, who previously worked as an art director for Kantana Group, must report in three times a year and do 12 hours of community service.
He said his rebellious reaction didn’t help the course of justice.
“On the one hand I was prepared to lose, but on the other hand I just can’t bear it,” Nattaphol said. “But there is nothing I can do, especially now that I am on my suspended jail term.”