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The police are planning to charge Prachatai reporter Nutthaphol Meksobhon and independent photojournalist Natthaphon Phanphongsanon as principals in the case of damaging a historic site and vandalizing a public wall, instead of as accomplices, for covering an incident in March 2023 where an activist sprayed protest graffiti onto the wall of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

From left: Nutthaphol Meksobhon, Natthaphon Phanphongsanon, and Noppasin Treelayapiwat. (Photo by Ginger Cat)

A lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) told Prachatai that an inquiry officer from Grand Palace Police Station officers are planning to summon Nutthaphol and Natthaphon, along with activist Noppasin Treelayapiwat, for further questioning, and that the police are planning to charge them as principals in damaging a historic site and vandalizing a public wall instead of as accomplices to the March 2023 incident.

The public prosecutor planned to rule whether to indict Nutthaphol, Natthaphon, and Noppasin on 14 June. However, TLHR said that the public prosecutor ordered the police to charge them as principals to the two offenses instead of as accomplices.

Under the Thai Criminal Code, a principal to a crime, defined as anyone who participates in the committing of an offense, faces the same penalty as the offender. Meanwhile, an accomplice, defined as anyone aiding or abetting the offender, faces two-thirds of the penalty.

Nutthaphol and Natthaphon were arrested on 12 February and charged with being accomplices to damaging a historic site and vandalizing a wall in a public place, while Noppasin was arrested on 13 February. They were later released on bail.

Activist Tantawan Tuatulanon was detained by officers from the Grand Palace Police Station last Tuesday (28 May), after she was granted bail following three months of pre-trial detention. She was also charged with being an accomplice in the same case and was later released on bail. It is unclear whether she will also be changed as a principal.

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