News roundup about suspects in the plots against the ‘Bike for Dad’ event

The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) has been monitoring reports concerning suspects alleged for having plotted against the Bike for Dad activity. According to information from the group of voluntary lawyers for human rights which represents the suspects in this case, some suspects complained about being physically abused and forced to give confessions while being deprived of liberty. Their access to lawyer had also been impeded. Meanwhile, the lawyers have also had their rights and freedoms deprived and some of them were even temporarily detained in the remand facility in the 11th Military Circle (the Nakhon Chaisri temporary remand facility) which is closed off from public.

In general, the outlook of this case reflects the vulnerabilities toward human rights violations as far as the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) is concerned. The right to fair trial has been grossly compromised in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), though the state is obliged to uphold the rights and freedoms and to promptly investigate when notified of any complaint. TLHR urges all media and international human rights to keep their close vigil over this case.

As of 3 December 15, arrest warrants have been issued against nine suspects on charges including the defamation, insulting, or threatening of the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent, or the Regent (lèse majesté), inputting false information into computer system, allegedly to harbor the plots to instigate violence in various areas and to prepare for a violent act against two politically prominent figures as the plotting had been conducted via social media. Five suspects have been arrested and held in custody in the Nakhon Chaisri temporary remand facility, while the other suspect has been incarcerated in the prison in Khon Kaen Province since before the warrant has been issued against him, while the other three remain at large. However, one of the five suspects arrested and held in custody in the remand prison had been released. Later, his twin has been arrested. Presumably, it was the case of mistaken identity. It is not clear, however, where the new arrestee is being deprived of his liberty. 

Timeline of the case

  • 21 Nov 15 Around 05.00am, plain-clothe officers, some of whom were military officers from the Provincial Peace and Order Maintenance Forces, about ten of them, rode in a tinted window minivan into the residence of Pol Sgt Maj Prathin Chanket, one of the defendants in the Khon Kaen Model After some protracted talk, Pol Sgt Maj Prathin was driven away as the officers said he would be brought to the Sri Pacharindra Military Barrack (the 23rd Military Circle) and would be brought back soon.
  • 24 Nov 15 According to the security agency, the former border patrol police officer (Pol Sgt Maj Prathin) who had been held in custody with incriminating evidence including Line messages and a diary, has confessed to preparing to launch violent incidences in various areas and to committing an act of violence against two politically prominent figures. Maj Gen Wijarn Jodtaeng, the legal chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) was asked to report the case to the inquiry officer at the Crime Suppression Division to take legal action against Pol Sgt Maj Prathin Chanket, 60 years, from Khon Kaen, Mr. Pitsanu Promsorn, 58 years from Chiang Mai, and Mr. Nathapol Na Wanle, 26 years from Khon Kaen for the violation of the Penal Code’s Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crime Act. Then, the inquiry officer of the Crime Suppression Division have asked the Bangkok Military Court to issue arrest warrants against the three suspects.
  • 25 Nov 15 Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, National Police Chief, issued the police order no. 682/2558 to set up the investigation team led by Pol Gen Sriwara Ransibrah-manakul, Deputy National Police Chief plus security officers from the army to compile all evidence. After the investigation, it was clearly determined that there were nine suspects in this case and arrest warrants against them have been elicited from the Bangkok Military Court for defamation, insulting, or threatening of the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent, or the Regent (lèse majesté), inputting false information into computer system.
  • 26 Nov 15 The police have brought two suspects including Pol Sgt Maj Prathin Chanket and Mr. Nathapol Na Wanle to a press conference asserting that the two of them with seven other assailants who have been issued with warrants and are being looked for, have been a part of the group preparing to launch an attack during a special event in Bangkok and to commit an act of violence against two politically prominent figures. Both of them were then brought to the Military Court for the remand hearing and was then brought to the temporary remand facility in the 11th Military Circle. Prior to the press conference, both of them had been detained in the military barrack for questioning since 21 and 23 Nov 15, respectively.
  • 27 Nov 15 The officials have brought Mr. Wallop Boonchan and Mr. Pahiran Kongkham for a remand in custody hearing at the Bangkok Military Court. Both were apprehended in their homes in Khon Kaen and Bung Kan, respectively and then brought to Bangkok. Then, they were transferred to the temporary remand facility.
  • 28 Nov 15 A lawyer of the suspects in this case, Ms. Benjarat Meethian told the press insisting that at present, Mr. Thanakrit Thongngernperm, a suspect in this case, has been incarcerated in a prison in Khon Kaen. It is therefore impossible for him to get involved with this violent plot.
  • 29 Nov 15 The fifth suspect, Mr. Chatchai Sriwongsa was nabbed and brought from Khon Kaen to have his custody at the Crime Suppression Division.
  • 30 Nov 15 Chatchai Sriwongsa was brought to the Military Court for his first remand in custody for 12 days. The other suspects who remain at large include Mr. Pitsanu Promsorn, Mr. Meechai Muangmontri, and Mr. Veerachai Chaboonmee.
  • 2 Dec 15 Mr. Chatchanok Sriwongsa, a twin brother of Mr. Chatchai Sriwongsa was arrested in Khon Kaen. Later, his relatives reported that Mr. Chatchai has been brought back home, but they had no idea where his brother, Mr. Chatchanok was held in custody.

Facts according to the lawyer, Ms. Benjarat Meethian

Legal action against the police who have applied for an arrest warrant against a person still incarcerated 

  • 29 Nov 15 Benjarat Meethian reported the case to the inquiry officer of Subdivision 3, Crime Suppression Division against Maj Gen Wijarn Jodtaeng, the legal chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and Pol Gen Sriwara Ransibrah-manakul, Deputy National Police as the head of the taskforce on lèse majesté case alleging that they have abused their office and have committed a libelous act and reported false information. It was related to the press conference during which Mr. Thanakrit Thongngernperm was named as one of the suspects in the Khon Kaen Model plot, even though he has been incarcerated in a prison in Khon Kaen due to another case. It was therefore impossible for him to commit such a crime as alleged during the press conference.
  • After reporting the case, in the evening, police from the CSD called Ms. Benjarat asking her to come to correct some document and to give more evidence at the CSD headquarters. But she refused to go, though she promised to do so when she is available. The officer called her back for more than ten times asking to meet her at her home claiming to have some matter for talk, but Ms. Benjarat continued to refuse to meet them.

Violation of the right to lawyer, persecution and deprivation of liberty of the lawyer

  • 30 Nov 15 In the morning, Ms. Benjarat went to see the suspects at the temporary remand facility to gather basic information. The four suspects, Pol Sgt Maj Prathin Chanket, Mr. Pahiran Kongkham, Mr. Wallop Boonchan, and Mr. Chatchai Sriwongsa, have appointed her as their attorney. She was allowed to visit them, but not bring her phone inside. Nevertheless, only three suspects showed up to meet her and while she was conducting her inquiry, the military officers stayed there and listened to the conversation all the time.
  • After the three suspects have been brought back to their cells, the guarding military officer, a captain, and two of his subordinates have asked Ms. Benjarat to wait for Pol Sgt Maj Prathin. She waited there for quite a long time until 12.00 and decided to tell the officers that she had to leave for a Court session which would commence at 13.30. The military officer simply locked the room and told Ms. Benjarat to stay put and to see their master. Ms. Benjarat waited until around 12.30 and decided to negotiate to leave for her business. The military insisted that she could not go as their master asked her to stay put. It was then that two police officers from the CSD (one woman and one man) came to get Ms. Benjarat to CSD, the military let her go. Ms. Benjarat asked to go first to the Court. She was riding in her car with a woman police officer, while the other police officer followed in another car. The woman police officer followed Ms. Benjarat to the Court and waited for her at the entrance of the courtroom.
  • When Ms. Benjarat came out of the courtroom around 16.00, she was handed a document to sign. It basically says that she was going to the CSD voluntarily. According to Ms. Benjarat, she stayed at the CSD until around 21.00. The matter she was asked about and the document she was asked to sign were trivial. Eventually, Ms. Benjarat decided to put the question upfront by asking what the authorities wanted from her. The inquiry officer in this case told her to withdraw the case she filed against the police and military officers as his master asked for that. But Ms. Benjarat said she could not withdraw it.
  • 2 Dec 15 According to Ms. Benjarat, the Prison Director of Khon Kaen Provincial Prison informed her that Mr. Thanakrit Thongngernperm has signed a document to withdraw the case filed against concerned officials regarding the issuance of arrest warrants against him while he was still in the prison and had no chance to commit such crime. When she went in to meet Mr. Thanakrit, she was informed by him that on 1 Dec 15, some police and military officers have come to meet him in the prison asking him to withdraw the case and in exchange for that they would have the arrest warrant against him (in a new case) revoked.

Facts according to the lawyer, Mr. Winyat Chartmontree

Denial of access to lawyer

  • 26 Nov 15 After learning that Pol Sgt Maj Prathin Chanket and Mr. Nathapol Na Wanle had been brought for a remand in custody hearing at the Bangkok Military Court, Lawyer Winyat from the voluntary lawyers for human rights has gone there to oppose the remand in custody. But he was denied access to the suspects, even though the suspects insisted that Mr. Winyat was their lawyer. The officers claimed that the Court had not approved the appointment of Mr. Winyat as the attorney in this case. Prior to the remand in custody hearing, the attorney asked the Court to talk to his clients, but the Court denied the request. Thus, the attorney could simply invoke legal provision to oppose the remand in custody application since he had not been allowed to talk to his clients. After the judges left the courtroom, he got the chance to talk with the suspects only for a few minutes before they were brought back to the Nakhon Chaisri temporary remand facility.
  • 27 Nov 15 Winyat visited the two suspects held in custody (a visit is allowed only when the attorney could produce a power of attorney approved by the Military Court). They got to talk for about two hours during which time the military officers stayed there and listened to the entire conversation. The room in which the meeting took place was a separate building from where they were held up. It should be noted that during the time the suspects were handcuffed and shackled. They were blindfolded during the time they were driven to the meeting room with the company of military officers.
  • 30 Nov 15 Winyat had an appointment with Ms. Benjarat to visit the suspects in the 11th Military Circle together. Ms. Benjarat has gone into the remand facility first followed by Mr. Winyat around 10.00. He could not contact Ms. Benjarat by phone. Upon arrival, the officer told him that Ms. Benjarat was with her clients in another room, so he asked to meet the clients as well. But his request was denied and he was asked to wait until noontime. Still, he did not get to see the clients. During the wait, Mr. Winyat asked to go outside the room and use his phone, but his request was denied. Mr. Winyat noted that there were two military men guarding the room from outside.
  • In the afternoon, Mr. Winyat has eventually met the two suspects, but only for about five minutes with the presence of military officers during the entire meeting. Then, the officers have brought the suspects back to their cells and the Prison Director who was a corrections officer came to ask for a talk with him. He told Mr. Winyat to leave immediately since the situation became too precarious and the security agency did not allow the conversation to continue.

Complaint about torture

  • According to Mr. Winyat, Pol Sgt Maj Prathin Chanket was apprehended on 21 Nov 15 and was brought to a military barrack (probably the one in Khon Kaen gauging from the short amount of travel time) and was held up there for about two days. Then, he was brought to a military barrack in Bangkok (Pol Sgt Maj Prathin guessed it could be the 11th Military Circle, but could not confirm it since he was blindfolded during the transfer. The blindfold was removed only when he had his food and when he was already in the holding cell). After arriving at the military barrack in Bangkok, Pol Sgt Maj Prathin was questioned by several teams of plain-clothe military officers one of which has threatened and forced him to give confession. When he refused to do so, he was kicked in his right leg and slapped on his face. During the interrogation, the officers did not hide their faces, but Pol Sgt Maj Prathin knew none of them and could not remember their faces.
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