Former Pheu Thai MP Released After 5-Day Detention

Soldiers stationed to contain anti-coup protests at Victory Monument in Bangkok, May 2014.

BANGKOK — The military has released a former Pheu Thai Party MP from custody after holding him incommunicado at an army camp for five days.

Ruangkrai Leekijwattana was released from the 11th Army District headquarters in Bangkok at around 9 am on Saturday.

The politician was detained by soldiers on 3 February and held at the 11th Army District camp for "attitude adjustment," according to a military officer who requested not to be named.

The officer told Khaosod that Ruengkrai was summoned by the military for a letter he sent to Patrick Murphy, the Charge d'Affaires at the United States Embassy in Bangkok.


The letter reportedly described the junta-appointed parliament’s decision to impeach former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra last month as politically-motivated. The letter also criticized Thailand’s post-coup military government, the officer said.

According to a military officer at the 1st Region Army, Ruangkrai "understood" the military's concerns and vowed to be more careful when expressing his political views.

"Because the meeting went well, the security officers did not take any legal action against Mr. Ruangkrai," the officer said.

Thailand’s military junta, which seized power from a Pheu Thai-led government on 22 May 2014, has summoned at least six Pheu Thai politicians for criticizing Yingluck’s impeachment over the past few weeks. However, Ruangkrai is the first politician to be held for more than a few hours.

Yingluck was impeached and banned from politics for five years for allegedly failing to stop corruption in her administration’s rice-pledging scheme. Her supporters have called the ruling an effort to weaken the Pheu Thai party's prospects of a winning the next national election, scheduled for 2016 at the earliest.


More than 300 politicians, activists, and academics perceived to be sympathetic to Yingluck’s government were publicly summoned and detained in military camps for up to seven days in the weeks following the coup.  The wave of summons orders wound down in July.


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