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29 people are now detained pending trial or pending appeal on charges relating to political expression, after activist Sinburi Saenkla was denied bail on Monday (8 August).

Sinburi Saenkla (Photo from TLHR/iLaw)

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said that Sinburi, a member of the activist group Thalufah, reported to Nang Loeng Police Station after learning that there was an arrest warrant out for him on charges of arson, destruction of property, and violation of the Emergency Decree in relation to the protest at the Nang Loeng Intersection on 19 September 2021, the 15th anniversary of the 2006 military coup. He was accused of burning a royal ceremonial arch in front of Ratchawinit School and a traffic control box at the Nang Loeng Intersection.

Sinburi denied all charges. However, the Criminal Court ordered to have him temporarily detained and denied him bail on the grounds that the charges carry severe penalties and the offenses were committed in public against state property, and that it is likely that he would repeat the offenses if released. The order was signed by judge Attakarn Foocharoen, Deputy Chief Justice of the Criminal Court.

Three other activists have previously been charged with the same charges over the same incident. A 22-year-old university student, also a Thalufah member, was summoned to the police to hear the charges on 8 October 2021, and was later released on bail. Meanwhile, Pornchai Yuanyee was arrested on 7 July 2022. He was subsequently denied bail and is currently detained at Bangkok Remand Prison. Pornchai and the student were also charged with royal defamation for burning the arch.

TLHR also reported that the police have requested an arrest warrant on the same charges for Thalufah activist Chitrin Phalakantrong, who is currently detained pending trial on charges relating to a protest at the Democrat Party headquarters on 30 July 2021. The police will likely be visiting him at Bangkok Remand Prison to inform him of the charges.

At least 29 people are currently detained pending trial or pending appeal on charges relating to political expression, 4 of whom are detained on royal defamation charges:

  1. Private Methin (pseudonym), 22, a soldier detained at the 11th Military Circle Prison since 19 March 2022 after he was accused of mentioning King Vajiralongkorn while arguing with another person who hit his motorcycle with their car. TLHR  reported that Methin was held at the 11th Military Circle for 30 days while facing disciplinary action, before being arrested by officers from Bangbuatong Police Station and detained at the military prison.
  2. Sombat Thongyoi, a former Red Shirt protest guard sentenced to 6 years in prison on charges of royal defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act over 3 Facebook posts he made in 2020. Sombat has been detained pending appeal at Bangkok Remand Prison since 28 April 2022.
  3. Pornchai Yuanyee, a Thalufah activist, who was accused of burning a royal ceremonial arch in front of Ratchawinit School during a protest on 19 September 2019. He has been detained pending trial at Bangkok Remand Prison since 7 July 2022.
  4. Shinawat Chankrajang, an activist who was arrested on 30 July 2022 and charged with royal defamation, violation of the Computer Crimes Act, and using a sound amplifier without permission for giving a speech during the protest in front of the South Bangkok Criminal Court on 28 July 2022. The South Bangkok Criminal Court ordered him detained for 12 days while the police conduct an investigation, and on 6 August 2022, denied him bail because he issued a statement rejecting the authority of the court with “severe wording” and because he committed his offense on King’s birthday, which the Court said was an important day for the entire nation.
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