December 2015: Cases of clicking “Like” button, Republishing the scandal plot, taking a train ride, and “whatever you do is wrong, if you are not with us”

Period 22 May 2014 – 31 December 2015 December 2015
Number of individuals summoned 829 43
Arrests at peaceful demonstrations 214 2
Individuals prosecuted before military court 155 3
Individuals prosecuted before civilian court 47 -
Number of individuals charged with lese majeste offense (Section 112) 62 4
Number of individuals detained under lese majeste charge in December 2015 50

 


Updates on the Criminal Code Section 112 Cases

 

Bike for Dad case was confusing. Lawyers and army filed charges against each other. One was wrongfully arrested and another was detained.  

In December 2015, Section 112 cases were still big topics after November. Arrest warrants were issued for 9 suspects, accusing of plotting unrest during Bike for Dad activity (for more information click here). One suspect authorized his lawyer to press charges against all officials responsible for the case. The charges were refraining to perform duties and defamation by means of publication and causing bad reputation. This was because the suspect was charged while being detained for another case.    

 

Some personnel came to talk to the suspect and his lawyer after filing charges. Then the two felt as if they were being threatened, they discussed to dropcharges. On 8 December 2015, Maj. Gen. Wijarn Jodteng, and Col. Burin Thongprapai filed charges against the lawyer for falsifying and defamation by means of publication.

 

1 December 2015. After the arrest until 29 November 2015, the personnel took Chatchai, who was one of the nine suspects with arrest warrants, back home. The informed the relatives that it was a wrongful arrest. But they already arrested Chatchanok, the twin brother of Chatchai. Chatchanok was released on 8 December 2015. He refused to talk about what happened during his detention.    

 

4 December 2015. Weerachai, another suspect, turned himself in to the army at Fort Prem Tinsulanonda, Nam Phong District, Khon Kaen Province. Then he was taken to be detained by the military court’s jurisdiction for the first period of detention on 6 December 2015.    

 

 

Clicking “Like” button and posting insulted message about the king’s dog were deemed violating Section 112.

 

14 December 2015. The officers brought Thanakorn, an automobile parts manufacturing company worker, to be detained by the military court’s jurisdiction. The application stated that Thanakorn was charged with the Criminal Code, Section 112 and Section 116, as well as the Computer Crime Act, Section 14. His actions were as follows;

 

1. On 19 September 2015, he clicked “Like” button to a picture on another Facebook account user. The picture was deemed insulting the king.

2. On 6 December 2015, he copied a picture and a message that satirized the king's dog from Twitter. He then posted it on his Facebook account.

3. On 7 December 2015, he copied “Ratchapakdi Park’s Corruption Expose” from Twitter and published on a Facebook page titled “National Red Shirts Institution”.

 

Thanakorn was detained from 8 December 2015. His relatives and lawyer did not know his whereabouts from 9 – 14 December 2015.  

 

 

Arresting a suspect accusing of faking a friend’s Facebook account and posting insulted message.   

 

24 December 2015. The inquiry official of Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) brought Wichai in for his first detention at the military court. The suspect didn’t file a bail because he had no securities.   

 

On 22 December 2015, at a parking lot of an apartment in Chiang Mai, Wichai was arrested, according to the Criminal Code Section 112, 326, 328, and the Computer Crime Act. He was accused of faking other’s Facebook account and posting insulted messages, in order to defame others.  

 

After the Coup in May 2014 until December 2015, there were at least 62 people who have been arrested, charged, and persecuted by the Criminal Code Section 112 for expressing their opinion. Click here to see the list of all those who have been charged.  

 

Man sentenced to 6 years for handing leaflets.
 

1 December 2015. Nonthaburi Provincial Court scheduled to read its decision of Charnvit’s case (click here for more information). The 60-year-old activist was accused of violating the Criminal Code, Section 112, when he distributed insulting leaflets at Nonthaburi Pier. After witness examination was concluded, the defendant was guilty and was sentenced 6 years in prison.    

 

The prosecutor claimed that the leaflet affected His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen, His Royal Highness Crown Prince, and Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Altogether there were 4 counts. Charnvit pleaded not guilty and asked the judge to consider whether the Princess was protected by the Criminal Code, Section 112. However the judge considered the defendant’s action as one count, not four as the prosecutor claimed. Therefore it was unnecessary to consider the Princess’s issue.      

 

 

Bunpodj's case continued. “Neng Jungnup” was sentenced 8 years in prison. Another 2 was waiting for the jurisdiction of the court.  

 

28 December 2015. The Bangkok Military Court sentenced Thanitsak or 'Neng Jungnup' to 8 years in prisons (click here for more information). He was an assistant photographer at a news agency.  He was accused of being a part of Hasadin or “Bunpodj” who produced and distributed insulting audio clips on the internet. His prison term was mitigated to 4 years due to his guilty plea. 

 

On the same day, the Bangkok Military Court schedule for examination for the case of “Taweesin” and “Kwanjai”, the defendants of Bannpodj's Network case (click here for more information). Both defendants were determined to defend their cases. They were against the jurisdiction of the court. This was because the crime was committed prior to the NCPO’s Announcement, Section 112 to be prosecuted by the Military Court, was issued. The Military Court ordered the prosecutor make a suggestion to the Court within 15 days. So that the Military Court could make another suggestion to the Criminal Court. The Military Court also temporary suspended the case until the issues of the jurisdiction of the court was clarified.

 

 

Defamation cases and the tendency of over-detailed judicial interpretation

 

21 December 2015. Kamphaeng Phet Provincial Court scheduled to examine Aksadakorn’s case and others, altogether 4 defendants, charged according to the Criminal Code, Section 112. The defendants fabricated a false document in order to make the public to believe that it was a genuine document and was from HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s Personal Affairs Division. The document was delivered to the Abbot of Wat Pasaingam, Kamphaeng Phet Province, and to other victims. The defendants claimed that they could invite the Princess to participate in a religious ceremony at the temple, and asked for money too.     

 

The 4 defendants pleaded not guilty. They asked the judge to decisively consider the basic legal issue, which whether the Princess was protected by the Criminal Code, Section 112. They reasoned that the Criminal Code had to be accurately interpreted. They also reasoned a legal principle “nullum  crimen,nulla  poena  sine  lege”. They also asked the judge to dismiss the case. The judge temporary suspended the motion and rescheduled to examine witnesses on 5 February 2016.     

 

After the Coup in May 2014 until December 2015, there were at least 37 people who have been arrested, charged, and persecuted by the Criminal Code Section 112 for defamation. Click here to see the list of all those who have been charged.   

 

 

Updates on charges according to the Section 116, gathering more than 5 people, and Computer Crime Act

 

 

Rajabhakti Park, NCPO’s sensitive issue 

 
7 December 2015. The Democracy Study Group organized an event, “Taking a train to Rajabhakti Park, Revealing the corruption scandal”. But the police and the army resisted them at Ban Pong Railway Station. 36 organizers and participants were arrested, and taken to the Royal Thai Armed Forces Temporary Headquarters, Phutthamonthon. They were asked to sign an agreement on being uninvolved politically. But some of the arrestees refused so. All were released later in the evening.            
 
379

รถไฟที่นักกิจกรรมโดยสารไปอุทยานราชภักดิ์ ถูกที่สถานีรถไฟบ้านโป่ง จังหวัดราชบุรี

8 December 2015. At Thammasat University, Tha Phra Chan, the Democracy Study Group, led by Sirawit Serithiwat aka New, held a press conference in regard to being stopped on his way to Rajabhakti Park. The police tried to arrest him and tried to the cancel the event. After a negotiation, the police allowed Sirawat to give an interview for 20 minutes. Then the police asked to stop.     

 

10 December 2015. 09.30 hrs., 3 personnel in army uniform and 1 in police uniform came to Chatmongkol aka Boss and took him away. They told his mother that they would take him away for a talk, and would bring him back home.

 

Chatmongkol’s mother informed that her son had been summoned at a temporary army post in Bang Mot District many times. The personnel ordered him to report regularly, and not to get involved with political activities. But he went on the train to Rajabhakti Park and did not report. This led to his arrest.     

 

Around 14.30 hrs, the military personnel brought Chatmongkol home. They said that they only had a meal together. It was because Chatmongkol did not report as scheduled.

 

In that afternoon the New Democracy Group made a statement in response to Rajabhakti Park at Thammasat University. There were plainclothes police officers observing the event.

 

11 December 2015. At Thon Buri Railway Police Station, Col. Burin Thongprapai, the judge advocate, filed charges for violating the NCPO’s order 3/2558: gathering more than 5 people, against 11 activists for their “Taking a train to Rajabhakti Park, Revealing the corruption scandal” activity. The summons were issued for the 11 activists later on.      

 

Other than the activists, those who posted and shared pictures of the scandal online were prosecuted as well.

 

1 December 2015. Around 10.30 hrs., the police from Phra Khanong police station brought Juthatip to the military court for a detention. According to the Criminal Code, Section 116 and the Computer Crime Act, she was accused of posting a message on Rajabhakti Park scandal. The court approved the detention and also a bail for 100,000 Baht. 

 

8 December 2015. The police arrested Thanakorn, an automobile parts manufacturing company worker. It was believed that he copied “Revealing Rajabhakti Park corruption scandal” picture from Twitter, and reposted on Facerbook page “National Red Shirts Institution”. Thanakorn was detained at an undisclosed location until 14 December. Later he was brought to be detained at the military court for charges according to the Criminal Code, Section 116 and 112. Thanakorn was detained until the end of December and was not granted bail.   

 

13 December 2015. Tanet, (Click here for more information), a motorcycle taxi driver and a social activist, who also took the train to visit Rajabhakti Park, was arrested at Sirindhorn Hospital while being treated. He was detained at an undisclosed location. He then was brought in for a press conference and to be detained at the military court for charges under the Criminal Code, Section 116, and the Computer Crime Act for posting picture and message of Rajabhakti Park corruption scandal and causing damage to the government and the army.

 

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Thanet brought to the military court

 

 

Posting rumors of double coup led to the sudden judgment.

 

Rajabhakti Park was not the only sensitive issue bothered the NCPO. Posting any other rumors about the Government could lead to criminal charges and arrests. For example Chayapa who was accused for posting messages on Facebook about a double coup and insulting messages to the King. She was charged under the Criminal Code, Section 116, and Section 112.

 

This case was different as Chayapa was informed for the examination on the night of 14 December. And the Military Court scheduled it on 15 December. Chayapa’s lawyer did not receive a notification about the schedule. Chayapa pleaded guilty, the court cut the prison term in half from 14 years and 60 months to 7 years and 30 months. The crimes were committed after the martial law was revoked. So the defendant had rights to appeal to the military court. And the lawyer planned to do so.    
 

Is there a hope? The military court ruled Rinda’s case as was not an incitement.  

 

21 December 2015. The military court scheduled Rinda for a testimony. Rinda was a defendant accused for the Criminal Code, Section 116, and for posting a rumor that Gen. Prayuth transferred money overseas.    

 

Prior to the proceedings, the judge informed both parties that this case was not considered as an incitement under the Criminal Code, Section 116. It was rather a case of defamation. The military court had no juridical power over this, and passed it on to the Court of Justice for their consideration.      

 

However the military prosecutor argued that it was concerned national security, and that the military court had the power to consider the case. The judge then ordered the prosecutor to submit an official paper within 15 days. So that the military court would pass on their consideration to the Court of Justice. The proceedings had to be temporary suspended for the time being.  

 

 

Updates on summons and military visits

 

14 December 2015. Maj.Gen. Achichat Rojjanabhirom, Commander in Chief of the 22nd Military Circle, invited Mr Somkid Chuakhong, a former MP from Pheu Thai Party, for an attitude adjustment at Fort Suppasitthiprasong Warinchuamrab, Ubon Ratchathani Province. It happened after Mr Somkid Chuakhong posted on his Facebook about paddy price fallen and how he wanted the Yingluck administration’s paddy pledging. Mr. Somkid agreed to delete the message as well as signed an agreement on not being involved with political activities. Should he fail to comply with, he would be prosecuted.                  

 

17 December 2015. The wife of Thanet Apornsuwan, a professor at Pridi Banomyong International College, Thammassat University, informed that 4 military personnel came to her house by a Humvee and asked to meet Thanet. She said that Thanet was not home. The personnel asked to take pictures of the house and said that they would visit on the 15th of each month. And if Thanet would go abroad, he would require permission for the NCPO. The personnel refused to give their headquarters.      


 

18 December 2015. Jittra Cotchadet, a labour unionist, posted on her Facebook that some military personnel visited her house and took pictures with her father. 

 

19 December 2015. Veera Somkwamkid, Secretary-General of People Network Against Corruption (PNAC), posted on his Facebook that military personnel went to his house in Lampang Province. The personnel told his wife that an order came from their superior. Prior to this Veera handed a complaint for Rajabhakti Park sacndal to the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

 

After the Coup in May 2014, there were at least 829 people were summoned or were visited by the army. In December 2015, there were at least 43 people.  

 

 

Updates on freedom of the press, when there was not so much freedom 

Removing a New York Times article for the 4th time

15 December 2015. Eastern Printing, a printing company for the International New York Times in Thailand, removed an article on Thanakorn’s detention from the front page and the Asia page on 15 December 2015. Thanakorn was accused for insulting the king, satirizing the king’s dog, and clicking Like button on what deemed unlawful. The removal from the newspaper was the 4th time occurred in 3 months. (For more information of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd removal) 

 

FCCT was allowed to hold a talk. But the army joined in.

16 December 2015.  In the evening, the army and police personnel came to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT) and discussed with the organizers for holding a talk on academic freedom under the junta. The personnel allowed the talk to be held but they insisted to observe.   

 

The Supreme Court ruled an 8-month sentence for the Director of Prachatai 

23 December 2015. The Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeal’s verdict on the case of Chiranuch, the Director of Prachatai, convicted for the crime under the Computer Crime Act, Section 15 (Click here for more information). Chiranuch was found guilty as the service provider for allowing an allegedly offensive comment about the monarchy to remain on the Prachatai webboard. The judge sentenced her 8-month imprisonment and a 20,000 Baht fine, and the jail term shall be suspended for one year.

 

The Supreme Court reasoned that the accused was not careful enough as stated on the petition. This was because the accused did not report computer traffic data to the authority right away after being informed the alleged comment on the webboard. The accused also deleted the data after 90 days as the Act stated. Therefore the authority could not find the person and bring them to justice.      

 

Thung Kam Co Ltd filed defamation suit against Year 10 students   

The relatives of young Citizen Reporters received summons issued on 14 December. The summons were for the Reporters to go to Mee Buri Police Station on 30 December 2015, at 10.00 hrs, and to receive the accusation for defaming Thung Kan Co Ltd. However on the day, the police informed that the summons would be postponed. The police would investigate in the area after the New Year holiday. Then they would conclude whether to file the case.    

The ground of the prosecution could have been the result of ThaiPBS TV program Citizen Reporters, episode; A youth camp loves landlord’s house, aired on 1 September 2015. The program’s content presented the affect of gold mining in Wang Saphung District, Loei Province.    

 

 “Insects in the Backyard” has been banned for 5 years

25 December 2015. The Administrative Court dismissed the petition, for lifting the ban ordered by the National Film and Video Board (National Board), filed by Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, the director and the leading actor of Insects in the Backyard (click here for more information). The court reasoned that the film contained images of sexual intercourse for a few seconds. So it was considered for banning. However film was not about sexual encouragement. If the scenes were deleted, the film could be released.    

 

Other Freedom of Expression Cases

Anti-coup protesters at Nonthaburi Pier prosecuted

21 December 2015. The inquiry official of Nonthaburi Police Station filed a suit against Chaiwat and 3 other accused for defying NCPO order 7/2014; the prohibition of political assembly of more than 5 people. It happed after they held up messages against the coup at Nonthaburi Pier on 26 May 2014 (click here for more information).

 

The case of delivering “Universities Are Not Military Camps” statement left with 2 accused

 

24 December 2015. Attachak Sattayanurak and Somchai Preechasilpakul, lecturers of Chiang Mai University (click here for more information) came to Changpuak Police Station and handed their statement after they were charged by the army for political assembly of more than 5 people, which was a violation to NCPO order 3/2015. It happened after they joined a group “Network of University Lecturers” and made a statement “Universities Are Not Military Camps” on 31 October 2015.

 

After meeting the inquiry official, Attachak said that there were only 2 accused. The other 6 talked with the Commander in Chief of the 33rd Military Circle, Fort Kawila. They signed an MOU and agreed not participate in any political movement.

 

 

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