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Four people currently facing royal defamation charges and detained pending trial have been granted bail: activists Jatupat Boonpattararaksa and Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, and two other people who were previously detained at prisons in Chiang Mai.

Jatupat Boonpattararaksa (left) and Somyot Prueksakasemsuk (right) after they were released from the Bangkok Remand Prison on Friday (23 April). (Picture by Kan Sangtong)

Jatupat and Somyot were granted bail and released from Bangkok Remand Prison on Friday (23 April). The Court required a security of 200,000 baht each, and set a condition that they do not participate in activities that are damaging to the monarchy and that they do not leave the country.

The court granted them bail on the ground that they have always come to their court appointments, that it can be believed that they would not try to flee, and that it is not possible for them to tamper with evidence as most evidence is now in the hands of the police and the public prosecutor. They are also not likely to cause danger, the academics acting as their guarantors are credible, and that they are represented by counsel.

Both Somyot and Jatupat are facing a royal defamation charge under Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code and a sedition charge under Section 116 in relation to the 19 September 2020 protest at Sanam Luang, among other charges. Somyot has been detained pending trial for the past 73 days, while Jatupat has been detained for the past 46 days.

This is the 7th time Somyot has requested bail and the 5th time for Jatupat.

During the hearing, Somyot told the Court that, if he is granted bail, he is willing to follow the Court’s requirement, and would not express opinions that would be damaging to the monarch. He also said that he has a knee injury from a previous accident, which made life in prison difficult as he has to constantly walk up and down stairs and sit on the floor to eat during meals, requiring him to take painkillers every day for the past month and a half.

Somyot is also concerned about the spread of Covid-19 in prisons, as two inmates in quarantine have tested positive. He told the Court that, since he has to attend court appointments, he would be constantly in quarantine, putting him at risk of infection.

Meanwhile, Jatupat told the Court that he is currently studying for a master’s degree at the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies (IHRP), Mahidol University, and that he has an upcoming examination and presentation. If he is not granted bail, it would affect his studies. Jatupat said that, if he is granted bail, he will strictly follow the court’s requirement, that he would not express opinions that are damaging to the monarchy and would report to court as required.

On 9 April, the Bangkok Criminal Court also granted bail for activist and musician Patiwat ‘Mor Lam Bank’ Saraiyaem, who is also facing charges relating to his activism at the 19 September protest.

On the same day (23 April), Phonphimon, a 22-year-old online vendor detained on a royal defamation charge at the Chiangmai Women Correctional Institution, was granted bail using a security of 150,000 baht and released from detention. The court granted her bail on the ground that she is not likely to flee, has a permanent residence, and has denied all charges.

Phonchai, a 37-year-old Karen man facing a royal defamation charge, a sedition charge, and a Computer Crimes charge and was detained at the Chiang Mai Remand Prison, was also granted bail on Thursday (22 April), using a security of 150,000 baht. The court granted him bail on the ground that he is not likely to flee and temporarily releasing him would not affect the police investigation.

9 other activists currently remain in detention pending trial on a royal defamation charge: Parit Chiwarak, Anon Nampa, Chaiamorn “Ammy” Kaewwiboonpan, Parinya “Fort” Cheewinkulpatom, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong Jadnok, Piyarat Chongthep, Phromsorn Weerathamjaree, and Chukiat Sangwong.

Many of the activists still detained have been repeatedly denied bail. Because of this, Parit and Panusaya have gone on a hunger strike in protest. So far, Parit has been on a hunger strike for 40 days while Panusaya has been on a hunger strike for 26 days.

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