Army court refuses bail for Chaturon

Army court refuses bail for Chaturon

Former education minister Chaturon Chaisaeng was yesterday detained for 12 days after being brought before a military court to face charges for defying the coup-makers' orders.

Mr Chaturon failed to report to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) after the military seized power last Thursday. He was arrested on Tuesday at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand in Bangkok, after giving a press briefing to reporters.

He was detained by the military overnight and taken to the Crime Suppression Division for questioning. Yesterday evening, he was taken before a military court for ignoring an NCPO order for him to report to the council.

Mr Chaturon was brought to court under heavy guard by soldiers. He appeared to be in a cheerful mood. 

The court later denied Mr Chaturon bail and ordered he be detained in Bangkok Remand Prison for 12 days.

Earlier yesterday, Mr Chaturon's wife, Jiraporn Chaisaeng, turned up at the military court to see her husband after it was announced he would be taken there. However, Mrs Jiraporn was told that Mr Chaturon's court appearance had been delayed because military officials had failed to gather the necessary documentation in time.

Vice Admiral Krissada Charoenpanich, chief of the Military Judicial Office, said Mr Chaturon was entitled to a lawyer and could apply for bail. During the trial, the prosecution can seek to detain Mr Chaturon for 12 days at a time, and his detention can last up to 84 days.

V/Adm Krissada said if Mr Chaturon pleads guilty, there will be no testimony from witnesses and a ruling can be given promptly. If he pleads not guilty, the trial will take some time, but should not exceed 48 days. If found guilty, Mr Chaturon faces up to two years in jail and/or a maximum fine of 40,000 baht. There will be no avenue of appeal.

Vice Adm Krissada said the military court expects to be flooded with cases following the NCPO's order that offenders in lese majeste and security-related cases will be subject to court martial proceedings.

Mr Chaturon, a key Pheu Thai Party figure, will be the first person under the junta's rule to stand trial in a military court.

On Tuesday, the NCPO instructed correctional institutions under the supervision of the Justice Ministry to comply with military court orders.

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