Junta intimidation

The Nation reports that the intimidation of lawyer Benjarat Meethien continues.

Benjarat is the lawyer for Thanakrit Thongngernperm, who has been alleged to have been involved in the so-called Khon Kaen model or plot to carry out attacks after the 2014 coup. Later, a warrant was issued for Thanakrit, accused of another plot to attack a royal event and/or The Dictator. At the time, while claimed to be “on the run,” he was actually incarcerated in a Khon Kaen jail and had been there since mid-2014.

Deputy Prime Minister, coup maker, Defense Minister and General, Prawit Wongsuwan brushed his incarceration aside and came up with a response that was so deliciously dumb that terrified us that such morons are able to keep Thailand under the military boot. General Prawit said that “although Thanakrit was in prison he must have done something against the law, otherwise the court would not have approved the warrant for his arrest.” Prison authorities confirmed Thanakrit was in jail and could not have been involved, but what the heck, this is the junta’s Thailand.

None of the original Khon Kaen 26 arrested in mid-2014 has yet been convicted and many remain in jail. PPT has always thought the military concocted the “plot” as a part of its drive to consolidate military dictatorship following the coup.

Some of those involved with the second “plot” – again we seriously doubt that it existed, not least because the junta has produced no evidence – have been charged with lese majeste.

All of this bizarre background brings us back to Benjarat, who “has sought help from the European Union (EU) over alleged intimidation by authorities.” She says she has “suffered intimidation by police and military officers after she filed a petition against authorities under the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) for dealing with a case involving her client.” And she’s the lawyer; just imagine what they must be doing to Thanakrit.

In her letter to the EU, Benjarat made the all too obvious point “that the NCPO and authorities treated people unfairly.” How could it be otherwise? This is the nature of military rule in Thailand.

She also complained about the dictatorship’s preference for moving detainees into the temporary prison at a Bangkok military camp – a prison for civilians that is essentially a military prison – “claiming that they suffer from poor treatment and tough conditions.” She had earlier petitioned the United Nations.

Benjarat claims she was followed, threatened and detained by military officers and that her residence has been watched by police and military officers. She “filed petitions against police and military officers involved in the issuing of an arrest warrant for her client.” Several weeks later, “the officers involved sued the lawyer for defamation. In response she lodged a counter-suit against the officers for making a false accusation…”.

Because she has dared stand up to the military, she is now a declared enemy of the junta and will continue to be harassed.

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