News on Red Eagle

29 08 2010

The following is a letter from Red Eagle or Tanyawut Taweewarodomkul. Tanyawut is in jail on charges related to the Computer Crimes Act and for online comments he is alleged to have made about the monarchy. The letter is to the girlfriend of a fellow inmate, arrested on charges of red shirt activism but since found guilty and released. The letter came to PPT via friends, one of whom visited the jail with the girlfriend. Ji Ungpakorn also has a version at his website, although our editing is just a little different.

Tanyawut is, as his letter says, on his own, and it is important that he receive support from within Thailand and internationally.

***

Sawasdee [name deleted]

I’ve heard your name for a long time from [name deleted].  I’ve seen him kiss your photo on many occasions. You keep up his spirits inside here… [identifiable material deleted].

My name is Tanyawut Taweewarodomkul or “Kenny” [Red Eagle]. I’ve been charged with the Computer Crimes law and lese majeste. I was jailed before [Conor Purcell] or Jeff [Savage] just after the big protest began. They accuse me of making a red shirt website which attacked the Monarchy [norporchorusa.com website]. I am fighting my case on my own. Those whom I thought would help me have done nothing and even my relatives don’t dare come to visit. I glad that [name deleted] has someone to visit and worry about him.

Sometimes it is hard to be a hero, especially when the Red team is always being wrongly accused and slandered and the referee is biased. Even the owner of the sports ground behaves as if nothing is happening. We can only help ourselves as best we can without much of an aim, waiting for the day when we can receive justice.

Thank you and your friends for helping us Red Shirts. Your friends may be foreigners, but they have more admirable spirit than many who are Thai.

Glad to know you

Tanyawut

Zone 8





Updated: Plead guilty or rot in jail

20 08 2010

PPT posted back on 8 July 2010 on the case of British man Jeff Savage. He was arrested and charged for the political crime of violating the emergency decree while taking part in the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) or red shirt protests. He was freed after his jail term was halved because he confessed to the political crime and promptly deported.

However, the Australian Conor David Purcell, who was similarly charged, decided to enter a not guilty plea and was outspoken at the same time. PPT commented that Purcell could expect considerable “punishment,” because he refused to plead guilty. It is now almost de facto “law” in Thailand that in political crimes, including lese majeste, a guilty plea is the demanded response or jail time “awaiting trial” drags on forever. And, when sentenced, the sentences are harsher for a failure to plead guilty.

Purcell appears to have “seen the light.” While not scheduled for a court appearance until September, his case suddenly appeared again. The Bangkok Post reports that the “Pathumwan District Court on Friday ordered the release of Australian Conor David Purcell after he confessed to violating the emergency decree, taking into account time already served behind bars.” The Post doesn’t note any irony in its report that says: “On the same day [that Savage was sentenced in July], Purcell  denied the charges, saying he wanted to fight the case. He changed his mind and decided to plead guilty today, and was sentenced to jail and ordered released.”

This is an important reminder that the Thai justice system is highly politicized and unjust. Purcell (and high-profile political prisoners) can expect to rot in horrid jails until they “admit” their “crimes” or somehow recant. Suddenly becoming a king-loving royalist is one strategy. It is a despicable system of double standards and as one journalist stated not that long ago, “Nobody receives justice in Thailand.”

Update: Soon after PPT posted the information above, we became aware of a more detailed account of Purcell’s court appearance. It is worth reading in full. Noteworthy, however, is the judge in the case actually making PPT’s point from above. Apparently, Purcell “[i]nitially, during Friday’s hearing, … continued to protest his innocence.” He stated: “The arrest was illegal, I was never shown an (arrest) warrant. How can I trust the judicial system?” The story continues: “Purcell said he had been beaten in jail and had been refused medical assistance by a judge during an earlier bail application hearing.”

Judge Somchart Lertkhitworakul delivered his verdict saying: “I can guarantee justice in this case…. If you do accept the charges then I can proceed to judgment.”Apparently Purcell was also “encouraged by his lawyers to ‘admit to the crime’ as ‘it will be useful to your interests’.” His lawyer apparently opined: “If you admit (to the charge) you will receive a reduced sentence…”. It was then, in the face of this concerted appeal and threat that “Purcell, referring to family members and friends who had supported him, then agreed to change his plea.”

Purcell’s lawyer, Siriporn Muangsrinun, “said Purcell would be deported, but she believed the verdict was a good outcome” She added: “This is a good result for everyone who is concerned for him…”. That might be true, but it is also a result that points to deep flaws in the Thai justice system.





Updated: Briton freed after guilty plea

8 07 2010

As has been seen in several recent cases, one of the ways to get a better deal from the courts in Thailand is to plead guilty and show contrition. The Bangkok Post reports that British man Jeff Savage arrested and charged for the political crime of “violating the emergency decree while taking part in the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) protests has been freed after his jail term was halved because he confessed.” He was freed by the Pathumwan District Court on Thursday since he had already spent time in jail since being arrested.

The Australian Conor Purcell who was similarly charged entered a not guilty plea and was  foreign defendant on the same charge, Australian, 30, entered a plea of not guilty and has been outspoken. So he can expect considerable “punishment,” with his case not even scheduled to be heard until September.

Lese majeste cases – also highly political cases – see this pattern for high-profile cases. Harry Nicolaides held out for a while and so did Suwicha Thakor, but both eventually decided to stop fighting. Darunee Charnchoensilpakul fights to rights, and she remains in prison.

Update: PPT’s assessment of these cases is confirmed in the Sydney Morning Herald. Makes for interesting reading on the cases of “red shirt” foreigners.





Further updated: Two political prisoners going to trial

17 06 2010

Update 1: AP reports that both men were “charged Thursday with inciting violence and committing other crimes that could lead to two years in prison. Both men denied the charges, which allege they violated an emergency decree imposed during the two-month protests and still in effect. Street clashes between so-called Red-Shirt protesters and government forces killed almost 90 people and injured over 1,400 before they were ended last month.”

Purcell

Interestingly, it is reported that Savage “screamed abusive comments about Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as he was led past reporters, calling him ‘a murderer’ and insulting Abhisit’s wife.”

Update 2: There is an earlier and short report at the BBC on Savage.

****

AFP has a report on the Australian man, Conor David Purcell, 30, from Perth, charged with violating Thailand’s emergency laws by addressing anti-government rallies in May. While some have questioned his role, the Abhisit Vejjajiva government has charged him under a political law. He is to face a court this week.

Originally detained over breaches of immigration laws, he was then “charged under the emergency laws that include restrictions on assembly and controls over the media.” He is accused of addressing crowds at the red shirt rally at Rajaprasong. Purcell faces up to two years jail if he is found guilty.

Savage

A 49-year old Briton, Jeff Savage, has also been charged with breaches of the emergency laws that came in force on May 7. Neither has appeared in the lists of detainees released by the police or the government. It is not known when the Briton will be put before one of the regime’s politicized courts.

Purcell has allegedly been bashed while in prison: “In late May he was bashed in jail by up to seven prison trustees, fellow inmates trusted by the prison guards, with bamboo sticks that left welts and bruising to his back and shoulders. He suffered body spasms and he was placed in a maximum security cell with up to 30 other inmates.”

Such bashings are not uncommon in Thai prisons, carried out at the behest of the authorities. Political prisoners are always at risk in Thai jails.








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