BANGKOK — Two Redshirt activists were sentenced to suspended jail terms in martial court today for not reporting to Thailand's military regime in the wake of the 22 May coup d'etat.
Thanat Thanawatcharanon, aka Tom Dundee, and Anurak Jentavanit, aka Red Ford, were sentenced to two year suspended jail terms after pleading guilty to defying summons orders from the junta’s governing body, known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
The court fined Mr. Thanat 5,000 baht and Mr. Anurak 10,000 baht. Both men were prominent members of the Redshirt movement and helped organise pro-government rallies in the weeks leading up to the coup earlier this year.
After seizing power, the NCPO summoned over 300 individuals, mostly politicians and activists considered sympathetic to the former government, to report to the Army headquarters. Those who turned themselves in were detained in military camps for several days, ostensibly for "attitude re-adjustment," while those who defied the summons orders were sent to face trials in martial court.
Mr. Anurak was allowed to walk free after today’s trial, but Mr. Thanat was sent back to Bangkok Remand Prison to await trial for an unrelated charge of lese majeste (insulting the monarchy).
Three other prominent anti-coup figures pleaded not guilty in military court today for failing to surrender themselves to the NCPO in a timely matter. They include Worachet Pakeerut, a law lecturer at Thammasat University and co-founder of "Enlightened Jurists" group (Nitirart), labour rights activist Jittra Cotchadet, and former Pheu Thai MP Sanguan Pongmanee.
Mr. Worachet surrendered himself to the junta on 17 June, nearly a month after he was first summoned by the military regime, citing illness as the cause of his delay. Ms. Jittra was in Sweden when she received a summons and notified the Thai Embassy in Stockholm that she could not report to the NCPO in time. She was detained by Thai authorities upon arriving at Bangkok airport on 13 June.
Mr. Saguan reported to the military on 25 June, two weeks after he was summoned by the junta.
The three defendants face a maximum of one year in prison if they are found guilty by the military court.
Speaking outside of the courthouse today, Mr. Worachet expressed concern that he may not be entitled to a fair trial by the military tribunal, but vowed to "contest [my charges] in accordance with the procedures."
Other high-profile figures currently facing legal charges for defying NCPO summons orders include former Education Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng, who was arrested by soldiers in a dramatic raid at the Foreign Correspondent Club of Thailand on 29 May, and Pavin Chachavalpongpun, an outspoken scholar who had his passport revoked in July for refusing to report.