The military court has refused to grant bail to a 50-year-old woman from northern Lamphun Province, accused of possessing illegal weapons, despite the suspect’s poor health. The defence lawyer, meanwhile, has challenged the military court’s jurisdiction over the case.
Saowani Intalo, a 50-year-old restaurant owner, was arrested along with Phairat Singkham, 38 years old, during a 26 May raid by military and police forces on a longan farm in the northern province of Lamphun. The authorities reported that five other suspects managed to flee during the raid and that they found illegal weapons, comprising three homemade guns and .22 modified pistols, eight bulletproof vests, radio communication devices, ammunition, and objects with signs of the red-shirt movement.
Saowani, however, denied all allegations and stated that she was detained without being informed of the charges against her and that she has no knowledge of all the evidence the authorities collected. She added that she was only a hired chef who was paid for preparing food for red-shirt protesters in May on Aksa Road in Bangkok and that she had no relations with the owner of the longan farm who fled during the raid on 26 May. She added that she did not flee during the raid because of her innocence and her illness.
After the raid, she was detained in a Chiang Mai military camp for one night where she was questioned whether she had links with red-shirt guards. The prosecutor later charged her with unauthorized possession of weapons, including using and possessing illegal heavy weapons and ammunition before transferring the case to the military court. She has remained in custody since 15 September.
The defendant has submitted three bail requests to the court citing her difficulties under detention because she has diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, and has to take care of her 10-year-old child. However, the military court dismissed the requests, citing flight risk and the severity of the case.
On 5 November, when the deposition hearing was scheduled, the defence lawyer submitted a petition to the judge to reconsider whether the military court has jurisdiction over the case. After the petition was submitted, the judges ruled to halt the trial.
According to Thai law, any law, even an order under martial law, officially comes into force a day after it is published in the Royal Gazette. Although the junta on May 25 issued its announcement to have cases related to national security tried by military courts, the announcement was published only on May 30. Therefore, the order was officially enacted only on May 31.