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Free At Last

Pinit Chanarong (left)  and Saichon Paebua (right)

Pinit Chanarong (left) and Saichon Paebua (right)

Pinit Chanarong and Saichon Paebua made headlines last week when they were acquitted of the arson attacks on the Central World shopping centre on May 19th 2010. At the time of their release, they had spent three years in prison without bail. Thai Red Shirts (TRS) met with Pinit and Saichon to congratulate them on their release and to discuss life as a political prisoner, the taste of freedom, and hopes for their future and as well as the future of Thai democracy.

TRS: How does it feel to be out of jail? Did you expect this outcome?

Pinit: It feels great. I want to say that I expected to be acquitted this whole time, because I could not imagine serving a sentence for a crime I did not commit. But the fact that I had already been in prison for three years dampened my confidence. I am grateful that the judge had mercy on me.

Saichon: I am so happy! To be honest, I did not expect to be acquitted, I expected the worst. When the judge read out the verdict I could not keep back the tears of joy. But I am also thinking about my friends who are still in prison, I worry about them. We need amnesty for political prisoners, and it must be swift.

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112 Trial Concludes for Red Shirt Activist

The trial of Red Shirt activist Akechai Hongkangwarn, accused of violating Thailand’s lèse majesté law, concluded Friday morning at Ratchada Criminal Court. The verdict is set for March 28th. 

Akechai was arrested on March 11th 2011 for allegedly selling video CD recordings of a documentary by the Australian ABC channel on Thailand’s royal institution, but was granted bail on March 18th. Akechai insists that he had no intention to insult or defame the monarchy. 

A dedicated activist and freelance journalist who has worked for the UDD, Akechai is hopeful that the court will decide in his favour.

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Somyot’s Plea for Justice

Convicted Red Shirt prisoner Somyot Prueksakasemsuk recently petitioned the Director of the Criminal Court Mr. Tawee Prajuablab to investigate the facts surrounding his arrest at the Thai-Cambodian border on the 30th of April 2011 and reevaluate his request for bail.

Somyot has been denied bail 13 times on the basis that he was attempting to flee the country when he was intercepted by border officials who have since allegedly opposed granting him bail. In a letter addressed to Mr. Tawee, Somyot explains that such allegations conflict with the facts as well as witness testimony.

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Resilient Somyot Determined to Fight for Bail Right

After 21 months of detention, Red Shirt activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was dealt a devastating 10 year sentence on two counts of lèse majesté for two articles he did not write. Despite the long and arduous appeal process ahead, Somyot is determined to prove his innocence.

In order to defend his case effectively, Somyot recognizes his pressing need for bail. But with 13 rejected bail requests behind him, he is looking for new approaches to fight for his fundamental human right.

The most recent bail denial came on February 4th. The Appeals Court stated in its dismissal that the case “was serious and affected the feelings and good morals of the public” and that Somyot might run from his charges.

He responded,

 They keep denying me bail on the basis that I might flee the country. I have every intention to fight my case to the end, but I can’t do it behind bars.

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Red Shirt MP Korkaew has bail revoked, Heavy Restrictions for Other 4

On Friday afternoon, a Criminal Court in Bangkok revoked the bail of Red Shirt MP Korkaew Pikulthong. Along with 23 other Red Shirts, Korkaew is set to stand trial next month for “terrorism” charges. His bail was revoked due to a violation of his original bail conditions that occurred during a speech he made outside of the Parliament building earlier this summer.

Korkaew has been taken to Laksi Prison and is likely to remain there until the 21st of December, when the parliamentary session resumes. The judge upheld the bail of four other Red Shirt MPs, including Dr Weng, Karun, Nattawut and Wophuthalaeng, but under restrictive terms. They are no longer allowed to speak on stage or travel overseas.

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Red Shirt MPs Bail Decision on Friday, “Terrorism” Trial Postponed

On Thursday, 5 Red Shirt MPs presented themselves at Ratchada Criminal Court to determine whether they acted in violation of their bail terms earlier this year during public speeches made while the Constitutional Court was considering the legality of the government’s planned charter amendments.

Korkaew Pikulthong, Dr Weng Tojirakarn, Karun Hosakul, Wophuthalaeng Pattanaphumthai, and Nattawut Saikuar, will return to court on Friday afternoon when the judge could decide to revoked their bail. Korkaew was asked to submit to further questioning in the morning.

The 5 MPs are part of a group of 24 Red Shirts who face “terrorism” charges for alleged conduct during the April-May protests in 2010. The trial was also set to start today but was postponed till the 13th of December because one of the accused was too ill to attend.

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