BANGKOK — A court on Friday approved arrest warrants for four activists a day after they failed to show up at their arraignment for staging a pro-democracy protest.
After defying the summons, the four high-profile pro-democracy campaigners vowed to attend a protest planned for Saturday where they dared police to arrest them, setting the stage for a confrontation.
“Arrest me tomorrow at Democracy Monument,” Ekachai Hongkangwan, a former lese majeste convict turned activist, said in a message posted online.
Movement figure Rangsiman Rome, rights attorney Arnon Nampha and activist leader Sirawith Seritiwat likewise pledged to join Saturday’s 5pm rally to demand an election take place in November as promised last year by junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha.
A policeman stationed near the Democracy Monument vowed to detain the four as soon as they are spotted.
“They don’t have to reach Democracy Monument to be arrested. At this point, if these people wander anywhere and encounter the police, they will be arrested immediately,” Pitak Sutthikul, chief of Chanasongkram Police Station, said.
The four were charged with sedition and staging a rally within 150 meters of a royal palace for their Jan. 27 protest on the skywalk in front of the MBK shopping mall on Jan. 27.
Five other protest leaders were freed by criminal court judges to await trial after they were arraigned Thursday, against the wishes of police. Thirty other people who were at the rally and charged with violating the public assembly law also walked free on their own recognizance.
A total of 39 people are being prosecuted for either organizing or attending the rally.
No date was set for their trials to begin, except one protester whose trial starts in early March.