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Student activist Nutchanon Pairoj has been sentenced to 2 months in prison on a contempt of court change relating to a protest in front of the Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court on 30 April 2021 to demand the release of detained student activist Parit Chiwarak.

Nutchanon Pairoj (Photo by iLaw)

The Criminal Court ruled on 2 December that Nutchanon was guilty of contempt of court for his role in the protest, which took place on the evening of 30 April 2021, after Parit’s mother Sureerat Chiwarak filed another bail request for her son, who was on a hunger strike at the time.

During the protest, Nutchanon gave a speech through a megaphone calling for the release of detained activists and demanded that judge Chanathip Muanpawong, who denied bail to several activists, listen to their demands. Meanwhile, other protesters held up signs saying “They did nothing wrong. Why did you lock them up?” and “Shitty motherfucking court,” among other messages. They also scattered pieces of paper containing the names of those who signed a petition calling for the release of detained activists in front of the court. Some of the papers were thrown inside the court ground.

The court ruled that Nutchanon’s speech, calling for other protesters to shout “free our friends” over and over, and attempted to pressure judges is considered rude behaviour and causing disorder on court premises, violating court regulations.

Nutchanon was sentenced to 2 months in prison, but was later released on bail using a 50,000-baht security. Meanwhile, student activist Benja Apan, who gave speeches at the same protest, received a fine of 500 baht.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), since 18 July 2020, at least 26 people have been charged with contempt of court. Of this number, at least 14 have been charged for demanding bail rights for detained activists.

Benja Apan

Both Benja and Nutchanon were previously sentenced to prison on a contempt of court charge stemming from a protest at the Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court on 29 April 2021 to demand the release of detained activists. Benja was sentenced to 6 months in prison – the highest possible sentence for the charge – while Nutchanon was sentenced to 4 months, but was released on bail using a 50,000-baht security.

Benja is currently detained pending trial on royal defamation charges relating to protests on 26 October 2020 and 10 August 2021. She has been detained at the Central Women’s Correctional Institution since 8 October 2021.

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