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A 19-year-old protester who was arrested during a protest on 13 October 2020 has been sentenced to 2 years and 5 days in prison on charges resulting from the protest, including violation of the Emergency Decree and resisting officials.

Police officers surrouding protesters gathering near the Democracy Monument on 13 October 2020.

Sasaluk (last name withheld) was among the 21 people arrested when crowd control police forcibly dispersed a protest at the Democracy Monument on 13 October 2020. The dispersal was reportedly done to clear the road for a royal motorcade.

During the 13 October 2020 protest, activists were occupying the area ahead of a mass protest on 14 October 2020. In this latter demonstration, protesters marching from the Democracy Monument to Government House were again forcibly dispersed in the early morning of 15 October 2020.

Sasaluk was charged with violating the Emergency Decree, joining an assembly of more than 10 people, causing violence and disrupting public disorder, obstructing traffic, violating the Public Cleanliness Act by placing objects on the road, destruction of property, refusing to follow an official order, assault, and resisting arrest.

The public prosecutor accused Sasaluk and other protesters of blocking the street by parking vehicles in the area, and trying to prevent police officers from arresting activist Jatupat Boonpattararaksa by blocking them with metal fences, as well as throwing objects and paint at the officers, who were also assaulted. The public prosecutor said that protesters did not disperse when ordered to do so by a police officer, who told them that they must open the road to prepare for a royal motorcade. 

Since he was charged before he turned 18, Sasaluk was tried by the Central Juvenile and Family Court, which sentenced him on Tuesday (13 December) to a total of 2 years and 5 days in prison.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), he was sentenced to 1 year in prison for violation of the Emergency Decree, 1 year for joining an assembly of more than 10 people, causing violence, public disorder and destruction of property, and 5 days for refusing to follow an officer’s order.

The Court then commuted the sentence, ordering Sasaluk to be sent to a juvenile training centre for 6 months. He must also complete his junior high school education, Mathayom 3  or Year 9, and take two occupational training courses.

TLHR reported that the Court did not allow observers in the courtroom while the verdict was being read, claiming Covid-19 prevention measures. They also noted that the public prosecutor had earlier decided not to indict 6 other activists charged at the same protest for violation of the Emergency Decree on the grounds that the protest did not risk the spread of Covid-19 since protesters were wearing masks and the area was a large, open space.

Sasaluk’s family members were shocked and saddened by the verdict as they expected the Court to dismiss the violation of the Emergency Decree charge, since the State of emergency has already ended

Sasaluk was later granted bail pending appeal using a 5000-baht security covered by the Will of the People Fund, a bail fund for pro-democracy protesters and activists.

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