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Isaan judges mull pre-trial freedom for poor defendants

Isaan judges mull pre-trial freedom for poor defendants

MONDAY, November 13, 2017
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Judges from five other provinces in the Northeast were in Kalasin on Monday examining a pilot project that allows underprivileged defendants to remain free pending trial without the need to post bail. 

The provincial courts in Kalasin, Chiang Mai, Chanthaburi and Nakhon Si Thammarat and Southern Bangkok Criminal Court have been running the pilot project since February.
Kalasin Court chief judge Sathaban Boonterm on Monday welcomed his counterparts from Sakhon Nakhon, Maha Sarakham, Loei, Nong Khai and Nong Bua Lamphu.
The Justice Ministry wants leniency for people who too poor to post bail and are accused of crimes that might result in jail terms of five years or less. 
Sathaban explained that the accused are assessed for flight risk and criminal background. Details of the case at hand are taken into consideration along with possibility of repeat offences, tampering with evidence or intimidating witnesses.
Allowing defendants to remain free pending trial enables them to keep working and saves taxpayers the expense of temporary incarceration, he said.
It would also help put the lie to the old Thai adage that “prisons are for the poor”.
“Anyone deemed a higher risk can be fitted with an electronic ankle bracelet or have their phones tracked, while those considered minimal risk must take an oath prior to release,” Judge Sathaban said.
The Kalasin Provincial Court handled 448 cases between February and November, he said, in which 284 defendants were nominated for no-bail release. Judges gave their approval in 188 cases.