Thai human rights lawyer gave additional statement, insisted on her right to refuse to consent to warrantless search of her car

On 5 March 2016, Ms. Sirikan Charoensiri (June), one of legal representatives for the 14 New Democracy Movement activists, reported to the inquiry official to submit an additional statement and more evidence for the case which she was accused of refusing to comply with a competent official and concealing evidence, relating to the incident at night of 26 June 2015 when she did not allow police to search her car and seize her clients’ phones without warrant. Mr. Kritsadang Nutcharus, the leader of the legal representatives, also gave a testimony as a witness.

Sirikan gave a statement that, on 26 June 2015, she and other lawyers had assisted the 14 arrested NDM activists since they were arrested and held in custody at Bangkok’s Phra Ratchawang Police Station until they were transferred to the Bangkok Military Court, where the lawyers did their jobs as legal representatives to object the pre-trial detention orders. During that time, she parked her car in front of the court after presenting her lawyer license to the military officer because at that time other people could not enter the court. The arrested activists had to leave their belongings with the lawyers when detained. After the lawyers had finished their duties, police officials requested to search Sirikan’s car, suspecting that the 14 defendants’ mobile phones were in the car. However, the officials failed to show a search warrant or explain how the mobile phones were related to the offences. The attempt to search was at night and without reasonable cause. The order was unlawful and not in accordance with Section 92(4) of the Criminal Procedure Code, which allows the search without a warrant when there is a justifiable evidence. Therefore, Sirikan refused to let the officials search her car at that time.

Lawyer Kritsadang Nutcharus gave a testimony that he was also assisting the 14 arrested activists in custody at the Phra Ratchawang Police Station, and doing his duty to object the pre-trial detention order at the Bangkok Military Court. During that whole time, the inquiry officials did not once express a need to seize the mobile phones or order a confiscation of the items. Kritsadang said that the officials’ attempt to search Sirikan’s car without a warrant at 01.00 of 27 June 2015 was deemed unlawful, because the car was parked in the area in the jurisdiction and control of the Bangkok Military Court where military officials who were in charge allowed her to park the car. In addition, no flagrant offence was committed to justify such search at night. Given the circumstances of the case, the officials’ request to search the car did not comply with the Criminal Procedure Code, and the officials did not have power to conduct the search.

At the police station today, there was a presence of plain-clothed officials and one was present during the statement taking in an inquiry room and took photos of Sirikan and her legal team. Sirikan requested for presenting more witnesses; Mr. Anon Nampha and Ms. Ida Arunwong. They will give a testimony to police on 7 March 2016 at 10.00. However, after Sirikan and Kritsadang gave their testimony, the inquiry official informed that the investigation file will not be finished to be submitted to the public prosecutor on 9 March 2016, as originally scheduled. If the inquiry official does not submit the investigation file within the timeframe, the public prosecutor will not be able to make a prosecution order. If he decides to prosecute Sirikan, he must get a permission from the Attorney General to make a prosecution order according to Sections 7 and 9 of the Act on the Establishment of and Criminal Procedures in Municipal Courts. The inquiry official will later confirm the date to bring Sirikan to the public prosecutor once the investigation file is completed.

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