22 January 2016 Abhisit “Nui” Sapnapapan, an NDM activist, was arrested by police from Chana Songkram station at the entrance to Bangkok Military Court when he was showing support to 4 other activists who were taken to seek a remand warrant yesterday. Abhisit had an arrest warrant issued after, together with fellow activists, from joining the train ride activity to “shine light in search of corruption” on 7 December 2015.
The police brought Abhisit to Thonburi Railway Police Station for the inquiry, which Abhisit denied all the charges. He was held in custody at the police station overnight, as the inquiry officer cannot bring him to request the remand warrant at the Military Court on office hours.
At 9.00 of 22 January 2016, Pol.Capt.Atthayuth Thongsawan, an inquiry officer of Thonburi Railway Police Station, took Abhisit to Bangkok Military Court to request the remand warrant. This did not go as initially informed by the officer that Abhisit would receive a basic health check from a doctor then be brought to the Court in the afternoon.
The judges arrived at around 11.40. The inquiry officer filed a request for a remand warrant to Abhisit, citing that the detention of the alleged offender is required because the inquiry officer needs to gather evidence and has not finished the evidence taking but had inquired 10 witnesses, and also needs to wait for Abhisit’s criminal record check.
Abhisit’s defense lawyer filed a motion against the remand warrant, citing that the Head of the NCPO order No. 3/2015 does not count as a law and thus cannot be enforced, because the order was issued by the NCPO which unlawfully seized the power, a violation to Article 113 of the Criminal Code.
Moreover, the breach of the Head of the NCPO order 3/2015 is considered to be a political offence, as the NCPO arbitrarily issued the order without people’s consent. Its content also limits freedom, which is against Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), in which Thailand is a party, stating that the right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized and no restriction shall be exercised.
The motion also stated that the inquiry officer had finished inquiring the alleged offender. The rest of the inquiry can proceed without the presence of the alleged offender. If the alleged offender is detained, it will be an overly long detention for a case with light penalty.
Besides, the reason the inquiry officer relied on is the same reason for the request for the remand warrant of Sirawit, Chonticha, Chanoknan, and Korakoch, who are the alleged offenders in the same case and Bangkok Military Court had dismissed the request on 21 January. Abhisit who came to Bangkok Military Court to show solidarity with the former four showed no sign of escape. Hence, the inquiry officer needs not requesting to detain him.
The Court ordered to dismiss the request for Abhisit’s detention, seeing that the inquiry officer has finished the inquiry of the alleged offender and 10 witnesses. Even if the alleged offender is not detained, it will not cause difficulty to the inquiry. Therefore, the Court sees the detention of the alleged offender during the inquiry unnecessary. The Court then dismissed the request for the remand warrant, and annulled the arrest warrant No. 6/2016 issued by Bangkok Military Court since the alleged offender had been arrested. The officer released Abhisit afterward.
Abhisit Sapnapapan, 29, graduated from Kasetsart University. He was active under Seri Nonthri group, and had joined several social movement especially on natural resources and community rights, such as Mae Wong dam. He later joined the movement against the coup, and had been arrested from the 1 year commemoration activity in front of BACC. He is working as a tutor.