Activists ask for civilian trial

Activists ask for civilian trial

Members of Resistant Citizen group gather in front of the Courts of Justice office on Ratchadaphisek Road to petition judges to assert their authority, defy coupmakers' authority and disallow the use of military courts to prosecute civilians. Apichit Jinakul
Members of Resistant Citizen group gather in front of the Courts of Justice office on Ratchadaphisek Road to petition judges to assert their authority, defy coupmakers' authority and disallow the use of military courts to prosecute civilians. Apichit Jinakul

Four anti-coup activists yesterday filed a petition with the Supreme Court asking they be tried in the Criminal Court as civilians, not in the military court, for a recent anti-coup gathering.

The activists are Arnon Numpa, 30, a lawyer from the Human Rights Lawyer Centre; Sirawith Seritiwat, 24, a political science student at Thammasat University; Punsak Srithep, 48, whose son was killed in the May 15, 2010 violence, and Wannakiat Choosuwan, 36, a taxi driver. They were members of the Resistant Citizen group, arrested at a protest they staged on Feb 14, in remembrance of the aborted election on Feb 2 last year.

All were charged with violating the National Council for Peace and Order's directives against anti-coup activities and political assembly but Mr Arnon, the lawyer, also faced additional charges under the Computer Crimes Act for his post-arrest Facebook comments. The group will be quizzed at Pathumwan police station on Monday. "All citizens should be tried by  normal court procedure, not the military court, which is perceived as a tool to purge dissenting views," Mr Arnon said.

Mr Punsak said the group will stage a 50km walk from Bang Bua Thong to Pathumwan station from Saturday to call for justice.

Nattapach Akhad, brother of medic Kamolkate who died at Pathum Wanaram temple during the protests in 2010, was at the court yesterday to give moral support. "This government had a direct role in the fatal dispersal of protesters in May 2010 but it seems comfortable in seeing only former PM Abhisit Vejjaijiva and former deputy PM Suthep Thuagsuban being brought to justice," said Mr Nattapach.

He said the military should not have the right to try civilians. "Not one military officer has been brought to justice for the blood spilt during that crackdown," he said.

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