PATHUM THANI — Police have raided the radio station operated by supporters of a Redshirt activist who is currently on the run from charges of lese majeste.
Wuttipong "Ko Tee" Kochthammakul was charged with lese majeste (insult of monarchy) for an interview with Vice News in which he referred to His Majesty the King in a negative way.
Defamation or criticism of the Royal Thai Family is criminalised under Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Codes, carrying a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison per offence.
Mr. Wuttipong, a prominent activist with the pro-government United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) in Pathum Thani province, has not been seen in public since the charges were filed against him in April. He is believed to be currently living in exile in Cambodia.
In an effort to uncover Mr. Wuttipong's whereabouts, more than 70 police officers from the Crime Suppression Division conducted a surprise raid on the headquarters of Mr. Wuttipong’s community radio station, called "Redguard Radio," in Lam Lukka district today.
When police arrived at the radio station with a court warrant, radio operators refused to let them in, claiming they needed permission from the building’s owners. Meanwhile, some of the staff hastily packed their belongings and escaped via the backdoor.
The police officers eventually managed to enter the radio station after they assured the staff that their previous resistance would not constitute contempt of the court.
The search turned up one shotgun, several rounds of ammunition, and two knives, but no documents or evidence related to Mr. Wutthipong's case, a high-ranking police officer said. A weapon inspection by the police revealed that the shotgun had been legally registered.
Around 40 Redshirts showed up at the radio station to protest the police raid, with some accusing the police of harbouring a bias against Redshirt leaders. However, no violence was reported throughout the search.
Experts from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) were also expected to join police in the search and collect evidence related to the radio equipment, but no NBTC officials showed up, forcing the police to withdraw from the station after spending an hour inside the premises.
It is the second time police have raided Redguard Radio since Mr. Wutthipong was charged.
For comments, or corrections to this article please contact: [email protected]