Next step is jail, regime warns Watana 

Next step is jail, regime warns Watana 

Court grants bail after critic flouts orders

Watana Muangsook is led out of the military court for a bail hearing on Thursday. The Pheu Thai ex-MP was freed on 80,000-baht bail but warned prison could be the next step if he continues
Watana Muangsook is led out of the military court for a bail hearing on Thursday. The Pheu Thai ex-MP was freed on 80,000-baht bail but warned prison could be the next step if he continues "political activities". (EPA photo)

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has warned Pheu Thai politician Watana Muangsook that he risks being jailed if he carries on with his political activities.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha accused fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra of being behind the small anti-junta protests that flared after he invited Mr Watana for attitude adjustment.

"The National Council for Peace and Order [NCPO] is not wanting to make Mr Watana's case an example since we just follow the law," Gen Prawit said.

"If he starts a new movement while on bail, he will be imprisoned."

Mr Watana was released on bail of 80,000 baht granted by the Military Court Thursday evening.

The court ordered him not to incite unrest and banned him for travelling abroad as part of his bail conditions.

He was charged with violating NCPO order No.39, which bans political movements.

Mr Watana breached an agreement he made with the NCPO on May 25, 2014, which includes a ban on political movements, according to Col Charan Sangsiri, a member of the NCPO's legal team, who lodged a police complaint against Mr Watana.

The politician repeatedly attacked the government and the NCPO on Facebook as well as through other actions, which breached the order, he said.

Responding to human rights groups' concerns over the regime's use of power to detain Mr Watana, Gen Prawit said the NCPO uses all means to maintain order. The country cannot move ahead by allowing people to take to the streets, which could cause damage to the public interest, not the NCPO, he noted.

Gen Prawit said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had assigned the Foreign Ministry to explain Mr Watana's detention to the international community. The government does not want to see the conflict break out and the country has a clear roadmap leading up to the election, he said.

There are only three months before the constitutional referendum takes place and people should rely on their own thoughts to decide whether to accept the charter, the deputy premier said, adding that no efforts should be made to canvass for votes.

Gen Prayut shrugged off reports that human rights groups plan to send him letters to express concerns about Mr Watana's case.

"I do not worry about anything. I do not wait for their letters, but will send letters to them to explain the reason why we arrested him," Gen Prayut said. The letters will also be sent to all the ambassadors to Thailand.

He said he extended leniency to the NCPO's political critics several times and now they will be subject to legal action, which will be more stringent.

Responding to current movements against the regime, Gen Prayut said the perpetrators risk being jailed, adding they will be tried in the Military Court, where defendants are generally granted fewer rights.

Several people were detained Wednesday and Thursday at the protests but there has been no violence.

Friday's planned anti-junta protest by Resistant Citizen and other Watana supporters was called off after Mr Watana was released on bail.

Asked by reporters who was behind the protests, Gen Prayut replied: "Lobbyists living overseas and Thaksin."

Reuters reported that Thaksin was not immediately available for comment. Noppadon Pattama, Thaksin's former legal adviser, read a statement to the news agency, which denied Thaksin was not behind the protests.

"Thaksin Shinawatra has not employed any lobbyists overseas," he said. "He is not behind any government in exile."

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