Bail approved for three key protesters

Bail approved for three key protesters

Sketches of human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa (left) and activist Panupong
Sketches of human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa (left) and activist Panupong "Mike" Jadnok are shown at the Many Cuts Art Space in Chachoengsao province in October last year. They will be released on Tuesday after 113 and 71 days in prison, respectively. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

The Criminal Court has approved bail requests for the temporary releases of three pro-democracy protesters on condition that they not get involved in activities deemed to dishonour the monarchy.

The hearings were held on Tuesday by videoconferencing.

In the morning, the court approved the bail request of Chukiat “Justin” Saengwong, who was detained at Bangkok Remand Prison.

The court cited as reasons that Mr Chukiat had never tried to escape before being arrested by police on March 23 and charged with lese majeste in violation of Section 112 of the Criminal Code during a protest of the student group Redem on March 20. 

In the afternoon, the bail requests were also approved for human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa and activist Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, who were treated for Covid-19 at Thammasat Hospital.

All three were released on bonds of 200,000 baht each from the Ratsadon Prasong Fund, which was raised from public donations and managed by an academic and an editor.

The court set the same conditions for the releases as those the protesters freed earlier. The defendants may not get involved in activities that tarnish the monarchy or create unrest. They may not leave the country without permission and must report themselves by schedule.

All three faced multiple charges from their roles during several demonstrations that began in mid-2020. Chief among them were royal defamation, illegal assembly and sedition.

Earlier, all three tested positive for Covid-19 while in prison.

Since last year, the Ratsadon group has staged street protests demanding reform of the monarchy, the resignation of the prime minister and a rewrite of the constitution. Their activities have switched to demanding the releases of their friends who were in prison this year. 

As of Tuesday, Mr Chukiat was in prison for 71 days, Mr Panupong 85 days and Mr Arnon 113 days.

In Mr Panupong’s case, the court ordered Mr Chukiat to take a Covid test and report the test result to the court. Mr Chukiat will therefore remain at the Bangkok Remand Prison for another two weeks, pending the test result.

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