WeVo chief guard rearrested after release

WeVo chief guard rearrested after release

Kalasin court denies him bail in royal defamation case

Piyarat "Toto" Chongthep at the Prachachuen Police station in Bangkok on Friday before he was taken to Kalasin to face new charges. (Photo from TLHR Twitter)

The chief guard of the Ratsadon protesters has been taken into custody on a charge of royal defamation right after he was temporarily released from detention on other charges.

Piyarat “ Toto” Chongthep, head of WeVo guards, had been detained earlier at Bangkok Remand Prison on charges of illegal association and possession of arms after police caught him and several guards at a mall in Bangkok on March 8.

He had been denied bail twice but on the third try on Friday afternoon, the Criminal Court agreed to temporarily release him, citing inadequate evidence.

The court set 45,000 baht as a surety and conditions that he must not carry weapons at protest sites or hurt officials. 

At 5.30pm, instead of being released, Mr Piyarat was taken from the prison in a police van to the Prachachuen police station.

There, he was taken into custody on an arrest warrant for royal insult and computer crime charges sought by police in Yang Talat district of Kalasin, allegedly for a display of vinyl posters about the government’s Covid-19 vaccine procurement plan and for posting the images on Facebook later.

Yang Talat police had on Tuesday informed him of the charges while he was at the Bangkok prison. They did not seek an arrest warrant or his detention at the time.

The warrant for his arrest on Friday, which is a standard form, did not state the reasons for the arrest, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

The form gives a choice of: the suspect might have committed a crime with a penalty of more than three years in prison; the suspect might have committed a crime and there are reasons to believe he would flee, tamper with evidence or cause other dangers; or other reasons. None of these boxes was checked.

Mr Piyarat was taken to the Yang Talat police station in the northeastern province at 8.30pm on Friday.

The Kalasin court later denied him bail, citing the severity of the charges and heavy penalties; the fact that he works with political demonstrations which have caused unrest and division in the country; and he was a flight risk and may tamper with evidence, cause other dangers or repeat the alleged offences.

Kalasin police claimed they had to restart the process and inform him of the charges again because Mr Piyarat had refused to give fingerprints.

Mr Piyarat has been charged in 11 cases to date. He is one of nearly 80 people who have been charged under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law, since its use was revived in November after a two-year hiatus.

Eighteen of those charged have now been indicted and are in detention awaiting trial, having been denied bail on six attempts so far.

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