Thanet: Whispers in My Ears

The Article 112 case of Thanet (pseudonym) is not a high-profile political case. Thanet is a person at the edge of society who does possesses neither secure economic or social standing, nor a fully sound mind.
At dawn on 2 July 2014, soldiers and police raided Thanet’s house and arrested him. He was accused of sending an email that contained a link to content in violation of Article 112 in 2010.
Thanet was quietly arrested without the knowledge of anyone other than his family. His family was unfamiliar with the law and did not know the details of his case, and so did not know to whom they should turn for help. When Thanet was sent to the Bangkok Remand Prison, others being held in relation to Article 112 passed the details of his story on to people outside the prison who were able to provide assistance.  
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights sent a lawyer to visit Thanet in prison and listen to his account of what happened. He admitted that he sent the email. But he said that he did it because he constantly hears whispers in his ears telling him to send emails to help the red shirts.  The whispers are still loud today. He tells everyone with whom he speaks that for the last 20-30 years, he has been persecuted by people who work for the palace. For example, whenever he goes anywhere on his bicycle, they place boulders in his path. When he moved into a new apartment, they banged loudly on his wall from the next room. When he changed jobs, they goaded his new coworkers into disliking him. They steal his things. He feels as though he is surveilled and the victim of malicious thoughts all the time. 
Prior to his arrest, Thanet had never been willing to see a doctor or undergo a psychiatric evaluation.  He believes that the things that have happened to him are real. This means that it took his lawyers and relatives a long time to persuade him to go see the nurse in the prison clinic.  But when he was examined at the clinic, he was not found to be ill.  So Thanet’s lawyers filed a request to send him for specialized examination. 
144 Tanet
Thanet waited for four months to receive a doctor’s evaluation so that he could apply for bail. He was sent for repeated tests at the Kanlaya Rachanakarin Institute [a psychiatric hospital in Bangkok]. A number of different experts were consulted in order to make a diagnosis.  Finally, on 24 November 2014, the report came out that he “suffers from paranoia (F20.0 Paranoid Schizophrenia) combined with depression. At present, he is fit for trial.”
On 1 December 2014, the court met regarding his case. Thanet’s father, mother, and older sister traveled from Phetchabun to lend their support, but the court ordered the case to be tried in camera. This meant that they were only permitted to sit outside the courtroom. The lawyer raised the results of the psychiatric evaluation with the court and asked for the case to be dismissed given that the defendant is mentally ill and acts without being able to control himself. The court was aware of the results of the examination, but the plaintiff objected.  Therefore, inquiry hearings with both the involved physicians and the investigating officials were necessary. 
Before his arrest, Thanet operated an e-commerce website and lived with his sister in Phetchabun province. On the day of his arrest, the officials seized the passbook for his  savings account, which had 80,000 baht in it, along with other items. After he was arrested and charged, Thanet remained in detention at the Bangkok Remand Prison. This was the case even after he appeared before the court and even though he had a medical certificate attesting to his illness. Thanet did not have enough money to request bail. On the day that he appeared in court, his family brought 10,000 baht with them and Thanet asked his sister to use it to purchase a bail bond. But the bail company said that 10,000 baht was insufficient and it would be a waste of time to use it to request bail.  
On 8 December 2014, Thanet’s older sister contacted the police to obtain the savings account passbook that was seized so that she could withdraw the 80,000 baht. She borrowed another 120,000 baht. She took the 200,000 baht along with the medical certificate and filed a request for bail from the Criminal Court.
The Criminal Court denied the request on the same day that she filed it. They provided the reason that the Bangkok Remand Prison reported that the examination found that the defendant was paranoid but fit for trial. If his illness grew more severe such that it posed a danger to the safety of his life, then the prison must send him for medical treatment as stipulated in the Prison Act.
This is the case even though there were at least two earlier Article 112 cases involving mentally ill persons, Bandit and Thitinan, in which the court granted bail for the duration of the examination of the case. Once the determination was made that the defendants were mentally ill, the court suspended the prison terms and instead sent the defendants for treatment.
Subsequently, Thanet’s lawyers appealed the denial of bail. The Appeal Court upheld the  initial denial. 
Thanet was the last person to learn of the denial. His hope that he would be granted bail that he had held onto for the previous months dissolved and he did not understand. His friends in prison said that he then stopped taking the medicine that he had received from the Kanlaya Rachanakarin Institute. The medication made him drowsy and unable to eat. He chose to put with the voices in his ears that tell him to do this and that. When he hears the voices in his ears, Thanet often mumbles, as if he praying to himself.
Thanet’s older sister told his lawyers that she has tried everything possible.  When bail was denied, she realized that perhaps there was nothing left that she could do. All that remains is to wait for the day of judgment. 
At present, Thanet continues to be held at Bangkok Remand Prison. The court has set the date of 23 March 2015 for the accuser and investigation officials to give testimony and 8 May 2015 for the treating physician to give testimony. As the case is being tried in camera, those who are not involved cannot enter the courtroom to listen.
For more details of Thanet's case, click here.
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