BANGKOK — The court on Tuesday once again refused to release four activists who organized pro-democracy protests on bail, their attorney said.
It was the third time the bail request was submitted to the court. The latest bid was also endorsed by Thammasat University former rector Charnvit Kasetsiri and the dean of the university’s Faculty of Law, Panus Tassaneeyanon. The pair posted up to 400,000 baht as a surety, to no avail.
“I must say that I was saddened and disappointed,” Charnvit said. “But I still think the chance of securing a bail is still there.”
He added, “What the four have been calling for, the monarchy reforms, it’s the most correct thing to do, especially if we consider the history of monarchies around the world.”
The four protest leaders – Arnon Nampa, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, and Patiwat “Bank” Saraiyam – are charged with royal defamation for organizing an overnight protest at Sanam Luang over the weekend of Sept. 19 and 20, 2020.
For their calls of reforms to make the monarchy more accountable, they have been jailed at Bangkok Remand Prison for 14 days so far. Their pre-trial detention can last up to 84 days.
The presiding judge, Chanathip Muanpawong, wrote in Tuesday’s ruling that the decision made by other judges to deny the four defendants of their bail release was clearly reasoned, and there’s concerns that the defendants will commit the lese majeste offense again if let out.
“There is cause to believe that the defendants may repeat similar offenses of which they are accused if they are granted a temporary release,” Chanathip wrote.
Poonsuk Poonsukcharoen, an attorney of the legal defense team, said that the chance of getting bail for the four activists grew slimmer in each failed attempt.
“The chance in the next attempt is even lower, if nothing changes,” said Poonsuk, who works for the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.
Chanathip is the same judge who presided over an infamous court case back in November 2011, when a 61-year-old man named Ampon Tangnoppakul was convicted of lese majeste and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Ampon died in prison less than a year later, sparking widespread uproar over the lese majeste law.
Chanathip also presided over the sentencing of Redshirt activist Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul to 15 years for lese majeste in 2011, and the convicting of political activist Surachai Danwattananusorn in the same offense in 2012. Surachai was given a jail term of 7.5 years.
Royal insult is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, per count.