Military court frees embattled Pheu Thai politician

The Military Court has released embattled Pheu Thai Party politician Watana Muangsook.

The Military Court of Bangkok at around 5:40 pm on Thursday, 21 April 2016, released on 80,000 baht bail Watana Muangsook, 59, a politician from the Pheu Thai Party who was detained by the military for so-called attitude adjustment, a period of detention with lectures forced upon political dissidents by the junta.

He will be released after being transferred to Bangkok Remand Prison on Thursday evening.

Watana is accused by the military of violating National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Announcement No. 39/2014.

In brief, the NCPO announcement states that people who have been released from detention by the authorities must strictly comply with the conditions set upon their release or risk being imprisoned for up to two years or fined up to 40,000 baht or both.

The NCPO earlier said that Watana was among the politicians summoned in the aftermath of the 2014 coup d’état, and was forced to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the regime, promising to steer clear of all political activities. Therefore, he has violated the MoU which he already signed.

The authorities added that the politician was also forced to sign several more MoUs with the regime each time he was detained. However, he never complied with the MoUs, but continued to criticise the NCPO.

Watana on Monday reported to the military at the 11th Military Circle, Bangkok, after he was informed by military officers last week that he was to be detained. The contact was made shortly after Watana posted a message on his Facebook account, criticising the latest draft constitution.

The embattled politician has been repeatedly taken in for attitude adjustment by the regime and is currently fighting charges under the Computer Crime Act for posting criticism of Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, the Minister of Defence, over his remarks about Yingluck Shinawatra, the former Prime Minister.

Khaosod English reported that Yaowalak Anupan, head of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), cast doubt as to how criticizing the junta-sponsored charter could constitute a violation of an agreement signed while detained without charge by the junta – which calls itself the National Council for Peace and Order – a process the junta euphemistically terms “attitude adjustment”.

“Watana insists that he had only criticized the draft charter. Is that [not allowed] in the agreement?” Khaosod English quoted Yaowalak, who does not represent Watana, as saying.

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