MBK39 activists freed after court rejects police request

politics February 09, 2018 01:00

By WASAMON AUDJARINT
THE NATION

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MBK39 activist group walked free yesterday although the court took a long consideration to free five well known protesters who were charge of sedition charges for a pro-election assembly last month in the heart of the capital.



Police brought activists Nuttaa Mahattana, Sombat Boonngamanong and Veera Somkwamkid, as well as students Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal and Sukit Phiensuwan, to ask for permission from Phatumwan Court to jail them based on charges of sedition.

After hours of consideration till yesterday evening, the court decided not to allow police to jail them during the case investigation as request, enabling them to walk free. 

The court said there is no reason to detain, therefore they were free without condition, their lawyer told reporters.

A total of 39 activists, who gathered on the skywalk in front of the MBK shopping mall on January 27 demanding elections in November as previously promised by the junta, were charged with the assembly of more than five people against the order of the National Council for Peace and Order. 

More than 100 people took part in the protest but only 39 were charged. Only the five activists, whom police consider to be the leaders, were charged were sedition. 

Two other protesters, Nopporn Namchiangtai and Noppakao Kongsuwan, have already confessed to police and went on trial yesterday. The court will deliver verdicts in their cases next month. 

The other activists could face long trials.

Well-known activist Sombat said he and anti-graft activist Veera had also gone to Pathumwan station to deny accusations that they had violated Article 116 of the Criminal Code, which deals with sedition. 

The maximum penalty for breaking that law is up to seven years in prison. Charges were pressed against Sombat and Veera after seven key activists who attended the recent gathering were accused of allegedly breaking the same law.

“I think that this is the authorities’ fear of the upcoming event this Saturday,” Sombat said, referring to another planned assembly to be held near the Democracy Monument. 

Meanwhile, Anon Nampa, a human rights lawyer and member of the MBK39 group, told The Nation that he had already postponed reporting to police until March 7. 

Other activists who did not report on February 7 included Rangsiman Rome and Sirawit Seritiwath, whose lawyers submitted letters of postponement to police, Anon said. 

Anon said he had been occupied yesterday with processing cases involving his clients, so he could not report to police along with the other MBK39 activists. 

Deputy police chief General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said police would consider whether to issue a third summons or arrest warrants for the absent activists. “We have to see whether their reasons to be absent are justified,” he said.