Activists delay detention, pro-Prawit rally to also be charged

Activists delay detention, pro-Prawit rally to also be charged

Activists who rallied against any delay in the general election arrive at Pathumwan police station on Friday to answer charges, then decided to defer the meeting until next Thursday. (Photo from @iLawFx Twitter account)
Activists who rallied against any delay in the general election arrive at Pathumwan police station on Friday to answer charges, then decided to defer the meeting until next Thursday. (Photo from @iLawFx Twitter account)

Activists demanding a general election have deferred until next week their meeting with police to hear charges against them stemming from a rally last weekend, avoiding possible immediate court detention.

About 30 protesters, among them key campaigners, went to Pathumwan police station on Friday intending to to hear charges including violating a ban on public political gatherings of more than five people brought by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and assembling within a 150 metre radius of a palace.

But they decided to back off after being told they would be immediately indicted and taken to Pathumwan District Court, where police would apply to detain them.

The exact number of the activists present was unclear. Deputy national police chief Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmnakul was there to handle the case and put the figure at 34, with another five not appearing.

All 39, seven of them leaders of the movement, rallied on Saturday against any further delay in the promised polls on the skywalk over Pathumwan intersection, as the Democracy Restoration Group. The closest palace to  Pathumwan intersection is Sa Pathum Palace.

Col Burin Thongprapai, a legal officer of the NCPO, filed the complaints against the seven leaders and the Royal Thai Police Office later added 32 more to be summonsed.

Pawinee Chumsri,  of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, said they will report to police next Thursday. They still prepare a case in their defence and get the money to be used for requests for bail. She said they were innocent of the charges and had no intention of fleeing.

Pol Gen Srivara said police will issue fresh summonses since they deferred the meeting, and warned of arrest warrants to follow if they fail to report on Thursday.

The group has plans for another rally on Feb 10 and Nuttaa Mahattana, who also took part in a silent peaceful protest outside the Siam Paragon shopping centre on Thursday, told reporters at the police station that gathering will go ahead despite the regime's threats of legal action.

The government, NCPO and National Legislative Assembly are under heavy criticism for trying to postpone the general election promised in November this year by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, a key figure in the government and NCPO, also faces questions about his credibility arising from the scandal over his luxury wristwatches and a diamond ring.

In show of support for the embattled deputy prime minister, about 40 people gathered at the Defence Ministry on Thursday, giving him moral backing.

However, Pol Gen Srivara said on Friday that they will face the same charges as the pro-election protesters.

They violated the ban on public assembly and gathered near a palace, which is off limits for rallies, he added.

The Defence Ministry and the Grand Palace are separated only by Sanam Chai Road.



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