Thai human rights lawyer reported for charges, police investigator cannot indicate the alleged false statements reporting to police as accused by a Thai police, an accuser to be further questioned

On 9 February 2016, Ms. Sirikan Charoensiri or June, one of legal representatives for the 14 student activists of the New Democracy Movement (NDM) who were arrested on 26 June 2015, and TLHR lawyer, reported to the Chanasongkram Police Station in Bangkok as summoned. She was accused of concealing evidence and refusing to comply with a competent official when she did not allow police officials to search her car at night of 27 June 2015. For the accusation of making a false statement to police in relation to Sirikan having filed a complaint for malfeasance against Pol.Lt. Gen. Chayapol Chatchayadetch and others for illegally impounding her car, the inquiry official failed to indicate what alleged false statements had she reported to police as per accusation filed against her, therefore the officer refrained from informing this charge today.

At 10.00, Ms. Sirikan Charoensiri met the inquiry officer of the Chanasongkram Police Station to hear criminal charges, filed by a police officer, against her. The officer informed the first charge that Sirikan committed an offence of refusing to comply with an official order without any reasonable cause or excuse after being informed of an order of an official given according to the power invested bylaw, and an offence of concealing or making away of property or document ordered by the official to be sent as evidence or for execution of the law, under sections 368 and 142 of the Thai Criminal Code

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Sirikan refused all charges, and testified that, on 26 June 2015, she and other lawyers from the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights had assisting the 14 arrested NDM activists since they were arrested and held in custody at the Phra Ratchawang Police Station until they were transferred to the Bangkok Military Court.

At that night, Sirikan parked her car in front of the Bangkok Military Court while doing her job as a legal representative for the 14 arrested. The arrested activists had to leave their belongings with the lawyers because the correctional officers informed that they could not bring any items to the prisons. The lawyers then took all the belongings to Sirikan’s car.

At 03.00 of 27 June 2015, after the legal representatives had finished their duty and were about to leave, Pol.Lt. Gen. Chayapol Chatchayadetch, with 20 military and police officers requested to search Sirikan’s car, suspecting that the 14 defendants’ mobile phones were in her car. When Sirikan asked to see a search warrant, Pol.Lt. Gen. Chayapol did not show one. He also failed to explain to the lawyers how their clients’ mobile phones were related to their offences.

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Sirikan said that the 14 defendants had been held in official custody since 17.00 of 26 June 2015 until 00.30 of 27 June 2015. If the officer would like to confiscate the mobile phones for investigation, he may seize them from the defendants during that time. The officer did not confiscate from the defendants, but instead, requested to search the lawyer-on-duty’s car at night without a search warrant and without reasonable cause. Therefore the order was unlawful according to the Criminal Procedure Code. Sirikan had the right to refuse to let the officers search her car, since the order was deemed unlawful, and the officers should adhere to the law.

Moreover, after Sirikan refused to let the officers search her car, the officers agreed and did not use force to carry on the search. If the officers had taken action with force, she would not be able to obstruct their action. As a consequence, it cannot be taken that she refused to comply with a competent official. Her action is not an offence of refusing to comply with official, and Sirikan will submit an additional statement and more evidence later.

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For the second charge, Pol. Col. Suriya Chamnongchok accused Sirikan of filing a false police report. As the inquiry officer was informing that Sirikan committed an offence under Section 172 and 174 of the Criminal Code for giving false information concerning a criminal offence to an inquiry official to subject an individual to a punishment, Sirikan’s lawyer asked the inquiry officer on the detail of the alleged offence. The inquiry officer failed to indicate which information Sirikan had filed a report was false, therefore she could not be informed of the charge and give a testimony to this alleged offence. Sirikan then requested that the inquiry officer question Pol. Col. Suriya, the accuser, for clarification and the inquiry officer will summon Sirikan to inform this charge later.

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Reporters, people wanting to show support and solidarity, and observers from international organizations such as the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the International Crisis Group (ICG),the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and the Amnesty International Thailand, around 30 in total, gathered in front of the police station. The police did not allow anyone who was not related to the case inside the inquiry room.

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