Updated: Courts unlawfully fast-tracking 112 cases

3 06 2023

An earlier photo

Earlier in the week, PPT speculated that the judicial system has been charging, convicting, and repressing at an increased pace. We added that it seemed that the courts and prosecutors are keen to push lese majeste cases through the courts, ensuring that as many are locked up as possible.

That has now been confirmed. In tweets by Thai Enquirer, where it is stated: “Chonthicha [Jaengrew] … noted that her lese-majeste case is not the only one being expedited, as the Criminal Court also fast-tracked the case against another MFP MP candidate, Piyarat ‘Toto’ Chongthep.” In a related tweet it is noted that the “Human Rights Lawyers Association has stated that the fast-tracking of the case was not a result of the defendant’s actions, but rather due to the decision of the deputy director of the criminal court, made without consulting the defendant’s lawyers.”

These tweets refer to court proceedings against Chonthicha that the Association “deemed unlawful in this case and a violation of human rights.

The events that have caused the court to engage in actions deemed unlawful are detailed by Prachatai.

Chonthicha was initially charged with lese majeste following a complaint by Nopadol Prompasit, a member of the bullies who misname themselves the Thailand Help Centre for Cyberbullying Victims, a royalist group that has filed numerous lese majeste complaints against activists, protesters, and internet users. Chonthicha was accused of “posting a message to King Vajiralongkorn during a November 2020 protest, in which protesters marched to the Grand Palace to send letters calling for monarchy reform.”

Witness hearings in the trial against Chonthicha were scheduled for March 2024. However, in a startling move, the Criminal Court changed the schedule to 1–11 June 2023, “even though Chonticha’s lawyer informed them that he is not available on these dates as he has to attend another hearing at the South Bangkok Criminal Court.”

On 1 June, “Chonticha filed a request with the court to postpone the witness examination hearings on the grounds that her lawyer has already informed the court that he is not available and because she did not sign the court order rescheduling the hearings.”

However, the court rejected her request. The court stated that “she did not oppose it when the hearings were rescheduled and because the prosecution witnesses had already come to court, and ruled that the hearings should continue without her lawyer.” In fact, Chonthicha’s lawyer had “filed a request to the court which included a list of cases he is responsible for and hearing schedule.”

Chonthicha protested the court’s decision to proceed. She told the court that hearing witnesses without her lawyer “would undermine her right to a fair trial.”

She then asked to speak with the “Criminal Court Chief Justice or Deputy Chief Justice [Attakarn Foocharoen], who she said decided to reschedule her hearings, but she was refused.” She then “requested to change the judges responsible for the trial on the grounds that their ruling to continue witness examination without her lawyer is unlawful and undermines her ability to fully fight her charges. Her request was later rejected by the Chief Justice because there is no ground to change the judges.” It was Attakarn who rescheduled the court dates.

Chonthicha resolved to reject the process and told the court she “will not sign any document resulting from the hearing.” The court determinedly “insisted on continuing the witness examination after her declaration and summoned 4 prosecution witnesses to the stand without Chonticha’s lawyer to cross examine them.” She was advised by the court “that she may cross examine them herself, she refused to do so in her rejection of the process.”

Chonthicha stated that “if the court insists on examining witnesses knowing that there won’t be a lawyer present then go for it. Section 112 is a criminal charge. According to the principles, there should be a lawyer present. If you want to examine the witnesses, go for it. Let the judicial process fail.”

The court went ahead and heard all seven prosecution witnesses in just two days, and scheduled the next hearing for 6 June.

On 2 June, she filed a complaint with the Judicial Commission. In that complaint, she requested:

disciplinary action to be taken against the judges for expediting her trial to the point of examining witnesses without the defendant’s lawyer. She said that the court did not tell her why her hearings were rescheduled, only saying that it was up to the judges’ discretion. She noted that her lawyer told a court official that he is representing Parit Chiwarak and other activists and would not be available. Despite this, the court rescheduled the hearings without asking her lawyer to confirm them.

Legalities and technicalities hardly matter in Article 112 cases. What does matter is who is directly the judges. And, clearly, there is considerable effort now being made, after long delays, to convict activists.

Of course, the fact that Chonthicha has just been elected as a Move Forward MP is likely a factor in the ruling class’s decision-making on these cases. As she said “she was indicted only days after she announce[d] her intention to run an an MP candidate for the Move Forward party in February 2023.”

The Human Rights Lawyers Association “said that rescheduling hearings without confirming whether the defence lawyer is available and not allowing the hearings to be postponed is unlawful and damages the fundamental principles of the judicial process.” The Association “called on the Chief Justice of the Criminal Court to investigate these actions and prevent them from occurring again so as to stop any unfair and unlawful proceedings, noting that although trials can be expedited so that they do not take too long, doing so must also be fair to everyone involved.”

Of course, the Chief Justice is a party to these proceedings (see above) and is likely to be the one ordering and/or transmitting orders on these cases.

Update: Should we believe that the bureaucracy running the courts are bumbling idiots (along with some of the judges) and that they cocked up or is it that there’s a conspiracy? We at PPT usually prefer the idea of dolts cocking up, but it is sometimes difficult to know. Prachatai reports on a cock-up/conspiracy involving Chonthicha’s lawyer, stating that, at last, the “Criminal Court has postponed the witness examination hearings in the [Article 112]… trial of activist and MP designate Chonticha Jangrew, claiming that it has just discovered her lawyer’s schedule in its own case information system. Yes, seriously.

It adds that:

the Court has now postponed Chonticha’s hearings, saying that it has found on its online case information system that her two lawyers have to attend hearings in a royal defamation trial against activists charged for wearing crop tops in a protest at the Siam Paragon shopping mall.

While the court did not grant the request for the prosecution witnesses to testify again, it agreed to summon them to court for cross examination by the defendant’s lawyers on 11 August, noting that the previous hearings we recorded on video and the defendant may request to see this before the cross examination.

We think we lean to conspiracy on this one, and it has been the public outrage that has caused the court to claim a cock-up.

More on R10 lese majeste complaint

26 04 2023

The case of a 112 complaint against Yan Marchal got some attention in the Thai Examiner.

The significant point for PPT was this:

Last Tuesday, it is understood that the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) agreed to take up the case against the French national and three to four Thai nationals living abroad who are believed to have participated in his 41-second video singing a song about waiting for a pizza delivery with lyrics that the royalist activist group believes is harmful to the monarchy and a clear breach of Article 112 of the Criminal Code which courts and Thai case law have widened in scope to encompass allusions, innuendo and indirect messaging with criminal convictions and jail sentences being handed down on this basis.

The loathsome Anon Klinkaew, self-appointed leader of the ultra-royalist group the so-called People’s Centre to Protect the Monarchy, was also mentioned. Allocating to himself great power, the thug “took the opportunity to warn the Thai public last week to simply ignore the clip and not to, on any account, post, repost or share it, something which would constitute a serious criminal offence in Thailand…”. He added that his vigilantes continues to what it calls “the offensive and dangerous content and to report any attempt to share or repost it in Thailand.”

Repression of monarchy reformists

20 11 2022

DW recently had a story that sought to assess where the democracy/monarchy reform movement is more than two years after the movement spectacularly burst on the scene.

In essence, the story is that the monarchy reform movement has been so repressed that it is difficult for activists to engage in political advocacy.

Clipped from Prachatai

The youth-led protest movement, “calling for constitutional reforms to rein in far-reaching powers of the country’s monarchy” and for the resignation of Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, “inspired hundreds of thousands of people across Thailand…”.

But, over two years later, the military-backed, pro-monarchy regime has managed to silence many and drain the movement of energy.

The repression that has dogged activists has resulted in lese majeste charges in the hundreds, long jail terms for some, and the development of a surveillance state that weighs China-like on anyone deemed a “threat.” The regime increasingly relies on cyber snoops and ultra-royalists, many of them with links to the military and ISOC, to bring complaints that result in charges, arrest, and detention.

Arnon. Clipped from Prachatai

For example, human rights lawyer and activist Arnon Nampa, faces at least 14 lese majeste charges, and was detained for more than 200 days without bail. Other activists are kept busy fighting a myriad of charges.

Democracy activist Patsaravalee Tanakitvibulpon explains: “Many of our friends are still detained…. Some have been held for more than 200 days.” As DW has it, “there are [now] at least 11 political detainees, including three on lese majeste cases.”

Patsaravalee reckons “the government had made people ‘numb and accustomed’ to protesters being detained.”

Even when bailed, there are sometimes ludicrous conditions that amount to house arrest, “along with a hefty bond and vague conditions that limit their freedom of expression and movement.” For example, Arnon “is prohibited by court order from encouraging others to protest and is not allowed to share posts on social media about demonstrations.”

Activist Chonthicha Jaengrew said “these conditions forced people into self-censorship, as ‘even voicing opinions in good faith could put us at risk of our bail being revoked’.”

Chonthicha said such “bail conditions had blunted the protest movement.” As she explained: “We don’t know when these conditions will be used as a tool to revoke our bail, which forces us to be more careful [in our speeches and actions]…”.

Several activists have fled Thailand.

But it is not all a gloomy story. Clearly, the discussion of the monarchy is now more widespread, and activists know that there has been a groundswell of broad support. Arnon thinls “more politicians in the future would be emboldened to question the Thai monarchy.” As he observes: “Discussing the monarchy has caught on…. We might not see a radical change like a revolution … but one thing is for sure: Thai society will not backtrack.”

Silencing MPs on 112

6 11 2022

Prachatai reports that yet another ultra-royalist vigilante group is seeking to silence critics of the lese majeste law. This time, they are targeting an elected member of parliament for a speech made in parliament, later posted online.

Move Forward party MP Amarat Chokepamitkul recently “posted a video clip on Twitter of herself speaking about court neutrality issues in royal defamation [Article 112] cases.”

Amarat. Clipped from Prachatai

The “King Protection Group posted on its Facebook page on Thursday (3 November) that its President Songchai Niamhom went to Phatthalung Provincial Police Station to file a royal defamation [lese majeste] and sedition complaint against Amarat, claiming that she defamed the monarchy in a Twitter video of herself speaking during Wednesday’s parliamentary session.”

In her speech, Amarat “discussed the court’s neutrality when dealing with royal defamation cases and how courts refused to summon documents to be used as evidence in these cases, such as records of King Vajiralongkorn’s travel to and from Germany and records of the transfer of shares in Siam Commercial Bank.”

In the meeting, conservative House Speaker Chuan Leekpai “told her to keep her discussion to what benefits the public and not to talk about the monarchy. He eventually cut off her microphone.”

As is usual, the “the police accepted Songchai’s complaint and said that they will investigate the matter and submit the case to their superiors.” That usually leads to a charge.

Depths of 112 repression

27 10 2022

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights has an accounting of lese majeste charges from 24 November 2020  to 20 June 2022.

In summary, at least 215 people have been charged in a total of 234 lawsuits.

These cases have increasingly been filed after “complaints” by vigilante “citizens” – at least 108 cases. Another 11 complaints were from the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, 9 from a committee of the Deputy Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, one complaint was from administrative officer, and the rest filed by police.

At least 17 minors have been charged in 20 lawsuits.

The listing of cases is revealing of the depths of repression.

Nine-year 112 sentence

22 10 2022

Clipped from Prachatai

Based on Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reporting, Prachatai has an account of the quite bizarre case of Pakpinya (last name withheld), 31, a  hospital librarian, singer, and model living in Bangkok.

Bizarre is the right term for the whole “case,” cobbled together on yet another complaint by ultra-royalist vigilante Pasit Chanhuaton. He has filed Article 112 complaints against at least eight people with the police in Sungai Kolok.

On 19 October 2022, a court in Narathiwat sentenced Pakpinya “to 9 years in prison on charges of royal defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act for sharing Facebook posts about the use of violence to disperse pro-democracy protesters in 2020 and the public being prohibited from using Sanam Luang.”

Phasit searched for and identified six posts he attributed to claiming they constituted lese majeste. He claimed these shared posts were from Facebook pages belonging to activist groups.

Some of these posts criticized police crowd control when they used water cannon against protesters, He claimed that Pakpinya “added a caption saying that people would be able to enter if they wear a yellow shirt.”

The royally deranged Pasit also accused her of sharing a post from คนไทยยูเค claiming that the king ordered the use of violence against protesters. He alleged that she also shared a post critical of the royal use of Sanam Luang while the people were locked out.

Three other posts were about enforced disappearances and the regime’s mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccine production.

TLHR point out that while the police did little investigation and Pasit lied, the court still founf Pakpinya guilty in three of the six instances.

Pasit said:

… he has never met Pakpinya, but insisted that she is the owner of the Facebook profile he filed a complaint against.

During cross-examination, Phasit claimed that he was not involved with the royalist group Citizens’ Network to Protect the Monarchy, even though he stated when he filed his complaint that he was a member. He also claimed not to know who the group’s leaders or members were, and that he knew that the network has been filing royal defamation complaint against people in various provinces, but did not know where.

Phasit said that he took screen captures of the posts from his mobile phone and did not print them out from Facebook, so there was no URL for each post, and that he adjusted the size of each picture before putting them into Microsoft Word and printing them out.

The police apparently didn’t investigate any of Pasit’s claims or his “evidence.” For instance:

Pol Maj Natee Chansaengsri, an inquiry officer at Su-ngai Kolok Provincial Police Station, also testified that he did not ask to see Phasit’s mobile phone, or for the original files of the photos he printed out. The police also did not confiscate Phasit’s mobile phone and laptop, so he could not confirm whether the content used to file the complaint matched with what is on the Facebook profile.

He also said during cross-examination that it was not possible to determine the IP Address that uses the profile, and that identity could not be determined from a YouTube account. He admitted that it is possible for Facebook accounts to share names and that he does not know if information on Facebook can be changed by another person.

After the verdict, Pakpinya was later granted bail with a 200,000-baht security. She said: “I want to know how twisted the Thai justice system can be…”.

The answer is very twisted indeed.

112 charge for Facebook post

4 12 2021

Via Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Prachatai reports that Warunee (family name withheld), aged 30 and from Phitsanulok was arrested on 2 December 2021 for lese majeste.

Warunee’s charge stems from a Facebook post that included “a picture of King Vajiralongkorn changing the seasonal decoration of the Emerald Buddha, edited so that the Buddha is wearing a dress.” The accused is alleged to have posted an edited photo that had “the Buddha is wearing a purple ball gown with a Yorkshire terrier sitting next to the base of the Buddha, along with the message ‘Emerald Buddha x Sirivannavari Bangkok’.”

The photos in this post are not the photo referred to but illustrate the point being made in the accusation of lese majeste.

King Vajiralongkorn had briefly returned from Europe for this ceremony.

TLHR said that Warunee was arrested at her Phitsanulok home at about 7AM “on an arrest warrant issued by the Criminal Court and taken to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) headquarters in Bangkok.” She had not received a police summons before she was arrested.

As is becoming the norm, the “complaint against her was then filed by Nopadol Prompasit, a member of the Thailand Help Centre for Cyberbullying Victims, an online royalist group…”.

From Wikipedia

Nopadol complained “that the edited image insulted and made fun of the King, and that the post was rude and inappropriate and could affect national security, as well as insulting the religion.” He has managed the trifecta of royalist “national identity.”

Warunee was charged under Article 112, Article 14 of the Computer Crimes Act, and “insulting an object of religious worship under Section 206 of the Criminal Code.”

Warunee has denied all charges and “asked the inquiry officer to summon Nopadol to explain his accusations and to point out which component of the image was offensive.”

The police confiscated her phone and laptop. She was detained overnight at the Thung Song Hong Police Station before being taken to court on 3 December. Her lawyer “requested bail for Warunee on the grounds that she has bipolar disorder and needs to receive continuous treatment. She was later granted bail using a 100,000-baht security.”

Vigilantes and cops

28 09 2021

A few days ago, Prachatai reported that student activist Panupong Jadnok – known as Mike – has “again been detained after being denied bail on a royal defamation charge [they mean Article 112, lese majeste] filed against him by a royalist activist for a Facebook post about monarchy reform.”

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights state that Panupong met with the public prosecutor on 23 September 2021 to be “informed that the public prosecutor had decided to indict him and he was taken to court.”

While Mike’s lawyer filed a bail request, as is common, it was denied.

The denial “was signed by judge Chanathip Muanpawong, Deputy Chief Justice of the Criminal Court, who earlier this year denied bail to several pro-democracy activists detained pending trial.” Prachatai also recalls that it was:

Chanathip … who sentenced Ampon Tangnoppakul, or “Uncle SMS,” to 20 years in prison on a royal defamation charge under Section 112 in 2011, after Ampon was accused of sending messages to Somkiat Krongwattanasuk, who was at the time the secretary of then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, which were deemed offensive to the King and Queen.  Ampon died in prison.

Panupong has now been charged under Article 112, and an “offense to national security under Section 14 of the Computer Crimes Act.”

Ultra-royalist bully Nangnoi

As we have posted several times previously, it is an ultra-royalist cyber-vigilante group that has made the complaint leading to the charges. It is again cyberbully royalist Nangnoi Assawakittikorn, a leader of the misnamed royalist group Thailand Help Center for Cyberbullying Victims:

The complaint was based on a Facebook post on 8 November 2020 which said “Do you think that you will look dignified standing on the ruins of democracy or on the corpses of the people?” along with the hashtag #ปฏิรูปสถาบันกษัตริย์ (#MonarchyReform).

It is claimed that the “original post also reportedly refers to the [k]ing by name.”

Panupong is detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison. He is now “facing 9 charges under Section 112; he has already been indicted on 3. He was previously detained pending trial on charges relating to the 19 September 2020 protest, and was in detention for 86 days before being released on 1 June 2021.”

One of the “lessons” of this case is to reinforce how much the police work hand-in-glove with ultra-royalist vigilantes. The cops are effectively royalists’ processing terminal for royalist repression.

112 bail denied

16 07 2021

112Quoting Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Prachatai reports an the lese majeste case against Prasong Khotsongkhram.

The 26 year-old has “been denied bail for the third time after being charged with [lese majeste] for three Facebook posts made in May and June 2021.” This despite “using 250,000 baht as security and ask[ing] the court to allow him release while wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet and for a supervisor to be appointed.”

As has been the case in about half of recent Article 112 charges, the complaint came from a royalist vigilante:

Thitiwat Tanagaroon

Royalist Thitiwat. Clipped from Reuters

The complaint against Prasong was filed by Thitiwat Tanagaroon, a royalist protester who was praised by King Vajiralongkorn for raising a portrait of the late King Bhumibol at a pro-democracy protest. TLHR reported that Thitiwat filed the complaint against Prasong after seeing three public posts on Prasong’s Facebook profile, one of which was made on 21 May 2021 and the other two on 7 June 2021, which Thitiwat said were insulting to the King.

This royalist complaint led to Prasong being arrested on 8 July by Bangplat Police Station. The following day, the court approved his continued detention, denying a bail request. A second bail request, lodged on 11 July, was also rejected.

As is all too often the case in royalist courts, the “Taling Chan Criminal Court ruled to deny him bail on the grounds that the charges are serious, that he might try to flee, and that there is no reason to change previous court orders” to deny bail.

Prasong “is currently detained at the Thung Noi Temporary Prison, which is on the same premises as the Military Circle 11 Prison.” Using the virus crisis, the Department of Corrections has ruled that Prasong “will have to be in quarantine for 21 days, during which time his family and lawyer will not be allowed to visit him. After he has completed his quarantine period, he will be transferred to the Thonburi Remand Prison.”

The royalist repression continues.

Vigilante 112

4 07 2021

In a deepening of Thailand’s fascism, ultra-royalist vigilantes continue to lay complaints against netizens, which police convert into charges.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights report on another such case. We do not think we have previously posted on this case. TLHR states:

On 22 June 2021, at 08:00 am, Ms. Kanlaya (Pseudonym), a 27-year-old employee of a private company in Nonthaburi province, close to Bangkok, reported to Su-ngai Kolok District Police Station in Narathiwat province, Thailand’s Deep South, to acknowledge her charges under the “lese majeste” provisions of Article 112 of the Criminal Code, as well as Article 14(3) of the Computer Crimes Act. Mr. Pasit Chanhuaton filed these charges against her with the inquiry officer at this police station due to four of her online activities in which she posted, shared, and commented on Facebook about the monarchy.

The report does not provide further details regarding the alleged offenses.

Police state that Pasit “has accused at least five persons of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code and filed the charges at this police station in Su-gnai Kolok.” This suggests that he may be in the employ of state agencies, a member of a vigilante cyber-spy group funded by the state or an eager ultra-royalist.

Whatever his particular location as a snitch, police say they “have gradually started to issue summonses for these accused persons to acknowledge their charges.”

Kanlaya’s summons was “from Acting Pol. Maj. Natee Chansaengsri, an inquiry officer from Su-ngai Kolok District Police Station. Dated 17 May 2021, the summons required her to acknowledge her charge in person on 7 June 2021.” She managed to postpone this given that her abode was hundreds of kilometers away in Nonthaburi and her official residence in Phayao. She reported on 22 June 2021.

Snitch Pasit claimed to have been “using Facebook when he came across one Facebook user posting images and four messages referring to the monarchy. The messages include a criticism of the monarchy’s role in relation to the political protests…”. Pasit also claimed Kanlaya shared a post from another Facebook user which urged that Article 112 be revoked to permit free expression on the monarchy.

An outraged Pasit “claimed that these messages maliciously referred to the King in an accusatorial manner.”

Kanlaya has denied all charges.

The police requested that the Narathiwat Provincial Court remand Kanlaya in custody. The court did this but granted a bail application on a surety of 150,000 baht.

Kanlaya is  scheduled to report to the Court again on 9 August 2021.

According to TLHR, there are now “at least 101 persons have been charged under Article 112 in 98 cases since the enforcement of this article has resumed in late November 2020.” Fully 45 of these cases result from vigilante-like complaints.

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