The Nation


Martial Court

Chaturon gets bail; told to shut up

Chaturon Chaisang and his wife embrace each other after he is released on bail yesterday.

Chaturon Chaisang and his wife embrace each other after he is released on bail yesterday.

Military court warns ex-minister voicing views may result in jail term

A military court yesterday granted bail to former education minister Chaturon Chaisang on condition that he take no part in political gatherings or travel overseas without permission.

A bond of Bt400,000 for bail was deposited by his wife Chiraporn, the former minister's lawyer Narinpong Chinapak said.

Chaturon was arrested on May 27 after he defied a summons from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and decided to hold a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand. He also faces charges of instigating unrest.

Under martial law, the military is authorised to detain anybody who fails to comply with its orders for 12 days, and this 12-day period can be extended seven times before the detainee is prosecuted.

The first 12 days of Chaturon's detention would have ended tomorrow, and though the junta sought to hold him for another 12 days, the court decided to release him on bail.

Other than the cash deposit, the court set many conditions for Chaturon to comply with while on temporary release. The prohibition includes not leaving the country without permission, not participating in political gatherings or expressing political views that can be deemed provocative, either orally or in writing.

If he is charged with instigating unrest in the Kingdom, he could face a sentence of up to seven years in jail, and this is in addition to a two-year prison sentence for defying the junta's order, meaning he could end up in jail for nine years.

Chaturon's legal team said they would map out a plan for the court struggle after his release.

After taking over on May 22, the military junta has summoned many people, including members of the previous Cabinet, activists, academics, red-shirt leaders and even journalists. Some of those who answered the summons were detained for a week or so, but many others are on the run.

Chaturon is the first civilian to be tried in military court, which has been empowered by the junta to try civilians.

He was seen handcuffed and in a brown prison outfit when he arrived at court at about 8.30am yesterday and was met by supporters shouting "Chaturon fight! Fight!"

Chaturon's younger brother Phutthipong told reporters that his big brother was healthy both physically and mentally, and was ready to fight for justice in a way that was democratic, peaceful and humanitarian.

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