Court indicts activists for anti-NCPO protest rally
Eight anti-regime activists have been indicted in court for illegal assembly in connection with a protest against the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on Jan 27 in central Bangkok.
Those indicted by prosecutors in the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court were: Rangsiman Rome, a Thammasat University law student; Sirawith Seritiwat, a political science graduate from Thammasat; Arnon Nampa, a lawyer; Ekachai Hongkangwan, a regime critic; Sukrit Piansuwan, a former Thammasat economics student; Netiwit Chotepatpaisal, a Chulalongkorn University political science student; Nuttaa Mahattana, an activist and moderator; and Sombat Boonngam-anong, an activist for an anti-coup group called Wan Arthit Si Daeng (Red Sunday).
They were arrested after gathering at Pathumwan intersection close to the MBK department store to demand that the general election be held this month. The gathering took place about 150 metres from Sra Pathum Palace.
Prosecutors said the eight also launched verbal attacks on the NCPO and that some were charged with incitement, a violation of the Criminal Code.
They also openly called on supporters to attend another and much larger gathering.
They also planned to lead a march along Ratchadamnoen Road, a thoroughfare associated with past political rallies, they said.
The court promptly accepted the case for hearing. All of the accused denied the charges and applied for bail.
However, Ms Nuttaa said she and the other suspects had no bail money and hoped the court would grant bail gratis as they had no intention to flee, cause disturbances or meddle with evidence in the case.
She said the charges brought against them was meant to gag them, adding if such practices persisted in the lead-up to next general election, it would be hard to imagine a poll being conducted freely.
She said all her group did was criticise the regime's performance in running the country.
Mr Rome said if the government wanted to hold an election in February, it should not have filed charges against them since both parties were after the same thing, the staging of an election.
He added his group was keeping watch on whether the regime will go back on its promise to stick to the election roadmap.