Immediately following the 22 May 2014 military coup, there were anti-coup demonstrations. The military junta used soldiers to expunge the protests and an unknown number of people were arrested. One of those arrested was Apichart Pongsawat.
When released from detention for opposing the coup, Apichart was immediately transferred to the police and charged with lese majeste using the draconian Computer Crimes Act.
The 25 year-old Apichart, who is a graduate student at Thammasat University and who also worked for the Law Reform Commission of Thailand, was charged on Friday, 30 May. It is reported that the police say the military provided evidence of the alleged offense said to be derived from the defendant’s Facebook page.
Apichart was taken to Bangkok Remand Prison on Friday after the court denied him bail, citing flight risk. That is standard practice for the royalist flunkies in the courts. This was despite a bail guarantee made by Deputy Dean of Thammasat University Parinya Thewanarumitkul.
Finally, on 24 June, it was reported that Apichart was released from Bangkok Remand Prison after the Criminal Court rejected a police request to keep him in custody. The police told the court that its case was incomplete as “no academics have agreed to give an opinion on whether the suspect’s Facebook posts were lèse majesté.” The police were told to finish the case but Apichart was released.
By 11 September 2015, the police had still not decided whether to charge Apichart with lese majeste.
Media reports of Apichart’s case:
Prachatai, 11 September 2015: “Anti-junta activist vows to fight on amid risk of heavier sentence”
Prachatai, 24 June 2014:”Anti-coup detainee-turned-lèse majesté suspect released”
AHRC, 1 June 2014: “THAILAND: Junta cracks downs on political freedom and freedom of expression”
Prachatai, 31 May 2014: “Thammasat University student charged with lese majeste after detained for anti-coup protest“