Arrest of one of the 14 students of New Democracy Movement (NDM)

On 15 August 2015, at 22:00 hr, Mr. Songtham Kaewpanpruk (age: 26 years old), one of the 14 students of NDM, was arrested at an immigration check-point of Don Muang Airport, Bangkok, upon his arrival from Malaysia due to arrest warrant issued by Bangkok Military Court against him for student activists’ peaceful gathering on the 1st anniversary of the coup on 22 May 2015 in front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC). The immigration office co-ordinated with Pathumwan police to take Songtham in custody for further proceedings.

At 00.55 hr, a TLHR lawyer arrived at Don Muang Airport but was not allowed into the immigration control area while police was documenting an arrest record of Songtham. Songtham denied to sign the police’s arrest record. He was taken by police to Pathumwan Police Station at 01.26 hr and arrived in 25 minutes later where there were about 20 student friends of him waiting to give moral support.

At 02:05 hr, Songtham was taken into a detention room at the police station and insisted that he would not request for temporary release. Pol.Lt.Col Suriyamate Pakdeewiwat, police investigator, informed the lawyers that Songtham would be informed of charges and interrogated at 09:00 hr on 16 August 2015. Songtham was kept in police custody overnight.

On 16 August 2015, at 09:00 hr, Pathumwan police investigator informed charges of violating the Head of NCPO Order No. 3/2015 prohibiting any political gathering of 5 people or more for holding an activity on the 1st anniversary of the coup on 22 May 2015 in front of the BACC in Bangkok. Songtham denied all charges, refused to give any statement and would testify later in court. Noting that there were plain-clothed military officers present during the whole process of interrogation.

At 12:05 hr, Songtham was released by police without bail security or deposit.  Police scheduled the next appointment on 16 September 2015 for sending Songtham to meet with military prosecutor.

Songtham Kaewpanpruk was one of the 38 activists arrested by police and military officers at Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre (BACC) where they were engaging a peaceful demonstration marking the one year anniversary of the coup d’état in the evening of 22 May 2015. The student activists were forcefully dragged into the BACC, arrested and brought to the Pathumwan Police Station. Songtham was allegedly punched in the face and kicked in the chest during the scuffle between the officers and the students and hospitalized at Hua Chiew Hospital. In addition to Songtham, at least two more students were hospitalized. Later, the police brought charges and seeked arrest warrants against 9 of the 38 students, including Songtham, for violating NCPO’s ban of political gathering of 5 people or more.

The arrest of Songtham this weekend was based on the arrest warrant stemmed from the 22-May-2015 incident, issued by Bangkok Military Court on 22 June 2015. From the same incident, there are 5 more Bangkok-based students who are still under arrest warrants and can be arrested anytime. Further, 7 Dao Din students in Khon Kaen are under Khon Kaen Military Court’s arrest warrants requested by Khon Kaen police for charges of violating the Head of NCPO Order No. 3/2015 which prohibits a political gathering of 5 or more due to anti-coup activity on 22 May 2015 marking the first anniversary of the coup in Khon Kaen, a northeastern province.

Earlier last month on 8 July 2015, Songtham and 13 other students of NDM were released after the Bangkok Military Court dismissed the police request to further detain them during investigation for sedition offence according to Section 116 of Thai Penal Code and violating the Head of NCPO Order No. 3/2015 ban of political gathering. The case stemmed from anti-coup activities and demonstrations by 14 students, 7 Dao Din students from Khon Kaen and 7 Bangkok-based student activists including Songtham, at Democracy Monument in Bangkok on 25 June 2015. In that case, the 14 were arrested on 26 June 2015 and detained in Bangkok prisons for 12 days by order of Bangkok Military court, from early morning of 27 June to 7 July. All were released without any conditions imposed by court, all of the arrest warrants against the 14 students in this case were terminated but the case is pending in police investigation.

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