The release of Harry Nicolaides may have caused some jubilation that his ordeal was finally over. However, two stories in the normally conservative Bangkok Post are a useful and salutary reminder that lèse majesté is mainly used against Thais. In the case of Darunee Charnchoensilpakul (also known as Da Torpedo), the charge derives directly from her political activism. As we PPT has reported, some 17-30 cases are currently active against others in Thailand. Their plight cannot be forgotten.
The Bangkok Post, 23 February 2009: “Lese majeste suspect’s bail rejected” states that the Criminal Court threw out a bail request by Darunee Charnchoensilpakul (known as Da Torpedo), who is accused of lèse majesté. A report in the Nation newspaper states that bail was denied for a second time, while more authoritative sources, including the Bangkok Post, state that this was Darunee’s third attempt to secure bail since she was charged on 22 July 2008. The newspaper reports that Chulalongkorn University’s Suthachai Yimprasert sought to bail for Ms Daranee and that her lawyer produced official documents indicating that she needed medical treatment. However, the court found no grounds to grant bail.
To its great credit, the Bangkok Post, 24 February 2009: “UDD jilts Da Torpedo. Ex-protester loses 15 kilos in jail” reports an interview with Darunee. The report states that an ill and thin Darunee “has lost all hope of returning to a life outside prison.” The report says that “Her voice was hoarse and her words sounded fuzzy as she could hardly open her mouth to speak due to severe jaw dysfunction.” This is the medical condition that the court considered provided no grounds for granting bail. She feels alone and abandoned and she endures insults from fellow inmates and prison officials who castigate her for showing disrespect to the monarchy.
Darunee has continually been refused bail. The Bangkok Post reports that “The court reasoned that the charges against Ms Daranee carried very heavy penalties, and that her alleged offences could tarnish the monarchy, therefore granting her bail could hurt the feelings of the King’s loyal subjects.” However, her lawyer points out that her case does not fall under the legal reasons for denying bail: “According to Article 108 of the Criminal Procedure Act, a suspect should be denied bail if he/she was likely to escape or repeat the offence he/she was accused of, or to meddle with witnesses and evidence, or if the bail guarantor was deemed to be unreliable.” It is believed that her case will begin on 23 June, almost a year after she was arrested.
PPT urges increased support for Darunee. We understand that she may receive visitors at the prison.
Read more about her case here.