It is a week since Prachatai published this (and, yes, yet another) disturbing report and almost a week since another story at the same place that point to the military junta’s thuggish attempts to oppress. We have used the words “thuggishness” and “thugs” quite often, and consider it appropriate as the junta acts in the manner of a criminal gang, threatening some, offering protection to others and reaping the material and other rewards of its brute power.
The first story is about an ongoing intimidation of “Benjarat Meetian, the lawyer for Thanakrit Thongngernperm, a suspect in the alleged Bike for Dad terrorist plot who is also charged under the lèse majesté law…”.
Thanakrit is the man alleged to have been involved in the so-called Khon Kaen model or plot to carry out attacks after the 2014 coup. As far as we can recall, this was a junta beat-up that led to men and women being accused and arrested but little more has been reported since then. Later, a warrant was issued for Thanakrit, accused of a plot to attack a royal event and/or The Dictator at the Bike for Dad propaganda event. At the time, while claimed by the junta to be “on the run,” Thanakrit was actually incarcerated in a Khon Kaen jail and had been there since mid-2014.
Benjarat filed a complaint on 29 November 2015 under Articles 172, 173, 174, 181, and 328 of the Criminal Code against Maj Gen Wicharn Jodtaeng, head of the junta’s legal office and Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, the Deputy Police Chief, “for allegedly filing false charges and defaming her client.” The response from the military and police officers was to file a criminal defamation complaint against Benjarat.
On 3 June 2016, the Criminal Court held a conciliation hearing but Maj Gen Wicharn and Pol Col Mingmontree did not attend. Instead, Mingmontree “filed an additional criminal defamation charge against an embattled defence lawyer.” She has “been summoned to report to police investigators … on 8 June 2016.”
In the second story, as expected, a “District Court has confirmed that the Military Court has jurisdiction over trials of anti-junta activists charged with violating the junta’s political gathering ban…”. The case involves “Natchacha Kongudom, an anti-junta youth activist indicted for violating the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Head’s Order No. 3/2015. The order prohibits any political gathering of five or more persons.”
The Military Court “read the ruling of Pathumwan District Court of Bangkok, which confirms the jurisdiction of the Military Court in the case, citing NCPO Announcement No. 37/2014 which states that cases related to national security, the Thai monarchy and violations of NCPO orders shall be tried in Military Courts.”
According to the report, the “ruling also states that although the announcements and orders of the NCPO were not endorsed by the King or parliament, the coup-makers have successfully gained control over the country since the 2014 coup. Therefore, their orders and announcements are lawful.”
Thuggish behavior is accepted in Thailand, as law.
Natchacha’s defence lawyer has asked the “Constitutional Court to consider jurisdiction over the case.”