Police to summon 27 WeVo guards who allegedly escaped

Police to summon 27 WeVo guards who allegedly escaped

Anti-government protesters occupy a section of Ratchadaphisek Road during a rally led by REDEM outside of the Criminal Court on March 6. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Anti-government protesters occupy a section of Ratchadaphisek Road during a rally led by REDEM outside of the Criminal Court on March 6. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Police will summon 27 WeVo guards and other people who on Saturday allegedly escaped from police vehicles after being held to acknowledge charges.

Pol Maj Gen Piya Tawichai, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) and spokesman, said on Tuesday that the 27 people would face summons.

On Saturday, police arrested WeVo  (We Volunteer) guards at a mall. While they were on police vehicles, a number of protesters surrounded the vehicles. They damaged them and opened the doors to let the detainees escape.

Pol Maj Gen Piya said police investigators were taking action against six groups of people.

The first was 18 WeVo guards led by Piyarat “Toto’’ Chongthep who had been arrested at Major Ratchayothin shopping mall on Saturday afternoon.

The charges against this group were illegal association of more than five with a purpose of committing illegal acts (Sections 209 and 210 of the Criminal Code), committing a flagrant offence that does not need arrest warrants and violating the emergency decree and the disease control law, said Pol Maj Gen Piya.

The second group was 27 people arrested shortly after the first group and escaped from police detention. Although they reported to police at Phayon Yothin police station, they will face similar offences as those in the first group, said Pol Maj Gen Piya.

The third group comprised protesters who damaged police vehicles to help those inside escape.

The fourth group was those who broke barriers and the fence at the Criminal court, set fire on items including the portrait of His Majesty the King, trespassed the court, and the Office of the Attorney-General. They will be held in contempt of court and for violation of the lese majete law (Section 112). 

The fifth group was those who persuaded people on social media to join the rally, as well as those who supported it.

The sixth group used metal balls or firearms to fire at police. Six vehicles — one pickup truck, two six-wheel trucks and three buses – were damaged. The vehicles, carrying border patrol police, were attacked on the way to return from the Criminal Court.  They will be charged with attempted murder, said the MPB spokesman.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, whose members represented the protesters, earlier shared a different account of Saturday's events where at least 48 people were detained.

According to them, WeVo guards were not at the rally site. They were at the parking building of a mall when police arrested them and searched their belongings without warrants or informing them of the accusations. Their call for help alerted other guards and people who then tried to stop the vehicles. 

They also argued most of the detainees had stayed in police vehicles for hours even after the protesters broke open the doors to let them out. They said no police were there and they feared they would be accused of evading arrest if they just walked away.

They got out of the vehicles only after their lawyers arrived. They then walked to report themselves to Phahon Yothin police station and were released later.

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