The Taling Chan Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for activist Chukiat Sangwong after he missed a court hearing following an accident, claiming that it believes he is trying to delay the case by refusing to come to court.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that on 22 March, the Taling Chan District Court issued an arrest warrant for Chukiat, who was charged with royal defamation for giving a speech at a protest on 2 November 2020, after he missed a witness examination hearing.
TLHR said that Chukiat’s lawyer requested that his court hearing be moved, as he has had an accident, during which he hit his head, and he still has a headache and was not able to come to court as he still hospitalized.
The court then ruled that the witness examination would be conducted without the defendant present, but Chukiat’s lawyer objected, as the charge carries a high penalty and the lawyer needs to consult the defendant in fighting the charge.
Chukiat’s lawyer said that the judge left the courtroom to consult with the Talingchan Criminal Court Chief Justice before returning to the courtroom and issuing a ruling that the Court does not think Chukiat is too sick to come to court and believes that he is trying to delay the case and avoiding coming to court. It then issued an arrest warrant for him and fined his bailsman.
On 23 March, the court once again refused to postpone the appointment, even though Chukiat’s lawyer submitted a certificate from his doctor stating that he still has a headache and is suffering from vertigo. The certificate also said that he received an injection that makes him drowsy and is not able to travel to court.
The court also refuse to repeal the arrest warrant, and said that, because it is not sure when he can be arrested, it will temporarily strike his case and cancel all witness examination hearings until he can be brought to court. It also said that if he has not come to court within three months, it will hold a trial as it sees fit.
Chukiat posted on his Facebook page on 23 March that he will go to court with his lawyer and bailsman as soon as his condition improves. He also wrote that he will not flee and will turn himself in as soon as he recovers, because he is also facing other charges for which witness examination is almost completed.