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The Criminal Court today (5 September 2022) acquitted four activists on charges relating to an incident after a protest on 3 September 2021, but fined them for violating the Emergency Decree.

Four people were arrested following a protest at the Ratchaprasong Intersection on 3 September 2021.

Thawee Thiangwiset, Thanadol Jantarat, and Natchapol Phrailin, members of the Thalufah activist group, along with a protester named Baiboon, were charged with resisting an officer in relation to an incident on 3 September 2021, when the drivers of the Thalufah speaker truck were arrested following a protest at the Ratchaprasong intersection.

iLaw reported that, following the 3 September 2021 protest at the Ratchaprasong Intersection organized by Thalufah and the student activist group United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, the Thalufah activists were driving their speaker truck out of the protest ground when they were stopped near the Sanam Pao BTS Station by plainclothes police officers, who hit their vehicle and dragged the passengers out without informing them of any charges.

Mob Data Thailand, a website recording information about pro-democracy protests from 2020 onwards, also stated that plainclothes police stopped the Thalufah group’s truck by cutting in front of them to make them stop and hitting the truck. One of the activists was also reported to have been choked by the officers.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) then reported that the police claimed that the activists and other protesters tried to obstruct the arrest of Thawee and another person, and that Thawee and several other people assaulted the arresting officers, one of whom was allegedly taken to hospital following the incident.

Thawee and Thanadol were also charged with violation of the public gathering ban under the Emergency Decree and escaping from detention, while Baiboon and Natchapol were charged with helping an arrested person escape. Only Thawee was also charged with assault.

Thawee was previously detained pending trial on these charges for 171 days between 15 September 2021 – 4 March 2022 before being granted bail. He is currently detained pending trial at the Bangkok Remand Prison after he was indicted along with 6 other activists on charges relating to a protest at the Democrat Party headquarters on 30 July 2021 and denied bail.

TLHR reported today (5 September 2022) that the Criminal Court ruled to acquit the four activists on all charges, except for the violation of the Emergency Decree charges against Thawee and Thanadol.

The court ruling said that the prosecution did not present to the Court evidence that Thawee assaulted any officers, and only the officer who was allegedly attacked testified in court, even though other officers were recording the incident. The prosecution witness and the alleged victim also gave contradicting testimonies, so there is not enough evidence that Thawee was guilty.

TLHR noted that prosecution witnesses were not able to identify the person who attacked the officers, and their testimonies contradicted each other. It also noted that the arrest was likely to be unlawful as the police cars involved in the incident did not have any symbols identifying them as police cars, and the officers did not present their ID cards, and did not inform the activists of their charges, their rights, or give them the opportunity to contact their lawyer.  

For violating the Emergency Decree, Thawee and Thanadol each received a fine of 20,000 baht, reduced to 13,333.33 baht because they gave useful testimony. However, since Thawee was already imprisoned pending trial for these charges, he did not have to pay the fine as the length of his imprisonment already exceeded the fine. He will also be paid a compensation of 85,000 baht for his imprisonment.  

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