The police on Thursday requested arrest warrants for 10 pro-democracy protest leaders who have been charged with lese-majeste and sedition.
They are also charging three high school students for allegedly violating the state of emergency decree.
Officers from the Chana Songkhram Police Station asked the Criminal Court in Ratchada for the warrants, according to Noraseth Nanongtoom, a lawyer for the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).
The targets of the warrants included Anon Nampa, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, and Attaphol Buapat, all protest leaders from the student-led pro-democracy group Ratsadon.
Noraset said the police have informed the suspects that they are being charged under Sections 112 and 116 of the Criminal Code with alleged lese-majeste and sedition, which carry a jail sentence of up to 15 and seven years, respectively.
The violations allegedly took place during a protest on September 19 and 20, 2020, at Thammasat University (Tha Phra Chan Campus) and Sanam Luang.
Noraset said the police issued the latest summoning order on Wednesday for the suspects to report to the station on Thursday but all of them have filed requests to postpone their cases, citing different reasons. Anon is now facing another case in Phayao, and others of them do not live in Bangkok so they were not able to report to the police today.
Some of them have yet to provide their statement to the police. One of them just lost their father last night but the police is insisting on getting the warrants to arrest them.
After they were charged on January 14, standard legal procedure would have given them 30 days to report to the police and provide a statement. But the police were now insisting on the statements just 14 days later, Noraset said.
The court can choose whether to grant the warrants or protect the suspects’ rights to fight for their cases, he added.
The suspects have not had their full 30 days to gather witness accounts and evidence to provide their statements, he said. “The police are already filing to prosecute them which might not be fair for the suspects,” he said.
“However, there is still a chance that the court might not approve the police request if they believe there are solid reasons to hold off on the arrests warrants until later,” he added.
High school students
TLHR reported on Thursday that the prosecutor from the Juvenile and Family Court has decided to prosecute three high-school students for the violation of the state of emergency decree.
They are Lopnaphat “Min” Wangpaisit, 18, the leader of the high-school student protest group, Bad Student, along with Benjamaporn “Ploy” Nivas, 16, from the same group and Khanaphot “Phoom” Yaemsanguansak, also 16, from Tai Student.
Their charges are related to a protest at the Ratchaprasong intersection on October 15, 2020. They have not been detained by the police while the court has granted their bail requests and summoned them back on March 10.
Lopnaphat posted on his social media account after knowing that he is being prosecuted for the violation of the state of emergency decree to question the authority’s decision.
“Prosecuting students but not celebrities, lousy covid-SOE,” he wrote.
The student activist was referring to the DJ Matoom saga.
Techin Ploypetch, a dise jockey, became a super-spreader when his birthday party was found to be the source of 24 confirmed coronavirus cases so far.
The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said on Thursday that the partygoers at DJ Matoom’s birthday could be prosecuted for the violation of the state of emergency decree for an illegal gathering of more than five people.
However, no one, including the DJ who contracted the virus and still being treated in the hospital, has been charged with any crime related to the party even though some guests have either lied or refused to give up their real timeline to the authority.
The state of emergency has now been in place for 10 months and some critics are saying that the government is prolonging the use of the decree to suppress protestors more than suppressing the spread of the coronavirus.
The CCSA said last month that the government is looking to lift the decree once the amendment of the Communicable Diseases Act to include international travel restrictions is done. Right now, the CCSA is using the power from the decree to continue to impose the 14-day mandatory quarantine measure to prevent the spread of the virus via imported cases.