Detained mother of pro-democracy activist charged with lèse-majesté

On 6 May 2016, the military brought charges against Ms.Patnaree, the mother of a student activist ‘Ja New’ with the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD). She was alleged to have committed a lèse-majesté offence against the Penal Code’s Article 112 and the Computer Crime Act. The police requested an arrest warrant which was approved by the Bangkok Military Court. Upon news of charges and arrest warrant against her, she turned herself in the afternoon on the same day to acknowledge the charges, though her bail has been denied citing fear of flight and given the gravity of the offence. 

Around 16.00, Ja New’s mother and her attorneys went to meet inquiry officials at the Technology Crime Suppression Division in the Government Complex, Chaeng Wattana Road, Bangkok.The day before, on 5 May, 1LT Chawin Chayawiwattanawong had reported the case against her with the officials at the TCSD. Mr. Theerapan Pansri, one of lawyers of Ja New’a mother told the press prior to a meeting with the inquiry official that Ms.Patnaree came to report herself to show her willingness to face the charges and to affirm that she had had not involvement with the commission of the crime. Upon her presence to police, Pol Lt Col Sanpetch Noothong, a TCSD inquiry official, informed her of the charges for committing an act against the Penal Code’s Article 112 and the Computer Crime Act’s Article 14(3).

 The alleged actions against her were written in the notification of charges form as;

In the [Facebook] chat, Mr. Burin who used his Facebook account named “Burin Intin” had posted messages obviously deemed defamatory to the monarchy. During the chat, Mr. Burin had also wrote “Dont criticise me for saying all these”, and a reply had come from a Facebook account “Nuengnuch Chankij writing ‘Ja. Such reply implied the acknowledgement and agreement with the alleged posts made by Mr. Burin. Therefore, judging from the circumstances and the acts of the user of Facebook account named “Nuengnuch Chankij”, the user is an accomplice to Mr. Burin in the act to post the messages defamatory, insulting, or threatening to the King, the Queen, and the Heir-apparent and to bring into a computer system data which is an offence against national security. Had the Facebook user “Nuengnuch Chankij” not agreed with the alleged posts made by Mr. Burin, she would have stopped him from posting the messages or blamed him for doing so. Instead, her reply “Ja” simply infers her consent (to the act).

IMG_2016-05-06 19:14:30

The inquiry official informed the charges to her that Mr. Burin Intin who had been pressed with charges concerning the violation of lèse-majesté the Penal Code’s Article 112 prior to this had posted messages on his Facebook deemed offensive to the monarchy while Ja New’s mother did not stop him from doing so, nor she blamed nor instructed him to stop it. Therefore, it is presumed that she had conspired with Mr. Burin to post the messages defamatory, insulting, or threatening to the King, the Queen, and the Heir-apparent and to bring into a computer system data which is an offence against national security.

After being informed of the charges, Ms. Patnaree denied all charges and accusations and requested for bail by placing five hundred thousand Bath as bail bond. Nevertheless, after consulting with the superior officials, the inquiry officials decided that the bail should not be granted since it is an important case carrying high penalty rate. There is a fear of flight and the tampering with evidence.

Ja New’s mother was being held in custody overnight at the Bangkok’s Thung Song Hong Police Station awaiting the remand hearing which will take place on Sunday 8 May 2016 at 9.00am. at the Bangkok Military Court. On 7 May 2016, she was transferred from the police station to be detained at the Crime Suppression Division (CSD). If the Bangkok Military Court denies bail for Ms. Patnaree on Sunday, she will be remanded during pre-trial at the Bangkok’s Women Correctional Institute.

Ms. Patnaree, a 40 year-old single mother with four children, is the mother of Mr. Sirawit, aka, ‘Ja New’, a prominent Thammasat student activist who has been actively involved with the campaign to restore democracy and to reveal alleged corruption in the construction of the Rajabhakti Park, as a result of which he had been pressed with charges and indicted with violating the junta’s ban on political gathering of five persons or more in the Bangkok Military Court.

Article 112 of Thailand’s PenalCode states that anyone who “defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir-apparent or the regent” will be punished with up to 15 years in prison. Article 14 (3) of the Computer Crime Act states that if any person commits any offence; (3) that involves import to a computer system of any computer data related with an offence against the Kingdom’s security under the Penal Code shall be subject to imprisonment for not more than five years or a fine of not more than one hundred thousand baht or both.

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