TOP

Somyot’s Legal Team submits Appeal and Bail Requests

20130401_153856At Ratchada Criminal Court on Monday, Sukanya Prueksakasemsuk submitted a request to appeal the decision in the case of her husband Somyot, who was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for lèse majesté, and a previously suspended defamation conviction. She also filed a 14th bail request in the 23 months since Somyot’s arrest on April 30th 2011.

Sukanya was joined by former National Human Rights commissioner Vasant Panich who has joined Somyot’s legal team for the appeal trial. He maintains that, as acting editor of the Red Shirt magazine Voice of ThaksinSomyot could not be criminally responsible for articles that he did not write. 

Mr Vasant said,

There is no law for which Somyot could be charged. In fact, the Printing Act of 2007 ensures that editors are protected from criminal responsibility for material they haven’t authored. If the verdict stands, then that act would become obsolete. 

The ramifications of the Printing Act are significant in Somyot’s case, as he was convicted on two counts of violating article 112 of the criminal code.

Sukanya and Mr Vasant have also requested that the Appeals Court listen to new witnesses. They expect a response to all requests within two weeks.

Read More
TOP

Red Shirt Convicted of Lèse majesté

At Ratchada Criminal Court in Bangkok this morning, Red Shirt activist and former UDD journalist Aekachai Hongkangwarn was sentenced to 3 years and 4 months imprisonment for violation of Thailand’s lèse majesté law, or Article 112 of the Criminal Code. He is alleged to have sold VCDs containing an Australian documentary about the monarchy.

This verdict is the latest in a series of tough sentences handed down by Bangkok’s courts in cases of alleged defamation against the monarchy. In an earlier case, Red Shirt activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for lèse majesté for two articles that appeared in a magazine of which he was the editor.

UDD leader Tida expressed her sympathies for Aekachai and his family. She also commented on the nature of Article 112:

I know that Aekachai was confident that he had done nothing wrong and had not broken the law, as was Somyot before him. This is the danger of this law. Unlike other laws, where one can be certain what does and what does not count as criminal behavior, with lèse majesté it is difficult to know where the line is.

Unlike many others that have been accused of lèse majesté, Aekachai was fortunate enough to be released on bail during his trial. Since Aekachai will appeal the verdict, his lawyer and his father have re-applied for bail. Until he receives the outcome of his bail application, Aekachai will join other 112 defendants in Bangkok Remand Prison, pending an appeal hearing.

Read More
TOP

112 Prisoners hope for Laksi Prison Transfer

The UDD has petitioned the government to transfer all political prisoners to Laksi prison in Bangkok. Included in this group are lèse majesté prisoners Thantawut Thaweewarodomkuland and Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, who are currently held in Bangkok Remand Prison.

Thantawut is serving a 13 year sentence and is hoping for a Royal Pardon. He is eager to return to caring for his young son who is waiting for him on the outside.

Having been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in January, Somyot is currently awaiting a date for his appeal hearing which his lawyers have pushed back to the end of March. He says that he will fight his case to the end:

I would remain a prisoner of the mind if I gave up the struggle and confessed to a crime that I did not commit. Justice must prevail.

Thantawut and Somyot, among other 112 and Red Shirt prisoners, are hopeful that they will soon be transferred to Laksi prison, where conditions are more comfortable and where they can join other political offenders. Meanwhile, the UDD continues to urge the government to grant amnesty to all political prisoners in Thailand.

Read More
TOP

UDD Petitions Justice Minister for Prisoner Transfer

At the UDD’s weekly press conference on Wednesday, UDD chairwoman Tida Tawornseth called on the Minister of Justice Pracha Promnok to act swiftly on behalf of Thailand’s political prisoners. 

In a letter dated March 11th 2013, Tida requested the immediate transfer of 10 Red Shirt and lèse majesté prisoners to Laksi prison which is reserved for political offenders. The list includes noted 112 prisoners Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, Thantawut Thaweevarodomkul, and Daranee Chanchengsillapakul, who are currently imprisoned alongside violent criminals.

Tida said,

The manner in which Thailand is treating its political prisoners is contrary to basic democratic principals. Even the Sarit dictatorship recognized a distinction between political offenders and other prisoners. Now that we are more democratic we can’t even meet such low standards.

(more…)

Read More
TOP

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.

(more…)

Read More
TOP

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.

(more…)

Read More
TOP

Calls for Amnesty Intensify

Red Shirts across Thailand have amplified their calls for the government to grant amnesty to all political prisoners still suffering in jail. These calls have increased in intensity following the Criminal Court’s decision to sentence prominent Red Shirt activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk to 10 years imprisonment for allegedly violating Thailand’s lèse majesté law. The verdict has prompted major outcries from local and international critics who have condemned the sentence as a political maneuver.

UDD lawyer Robert Amsterdam traveled to Bangkok this week to express solidarity with Somyot. During his visit with Somyot in Bangkok Remand Prison on Monday, Amsterdam told the press that

The charges against Somyot are being used by the opposition who are against free speech and human rights. They are the reason we are here visiting our friends in jail.

(more…)

Read More
TOP

Somyot’s Sentence Exposes the Dark Heart of Thailand

On the 23rd of January, a Criminal Court judge sentenced Red Shirt activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk to 10 years imprisonment for publishing two articles that violated Thailand’s notorious lèse majesté law, enshrined in article 112 of the Thai criminal code. Somyot’s arrest, detention, and verdict betrays Thailand’s disregard for the fundamental human rights that should be at the basis of any true democracy.

Detained for 21 months and denied bail 12 times, Somyot has had his human rights violated by the Thai judicial system from day one. Somyot, his wife Sukanya Prueksakasemsuk, and many in the Red Shirt and anti-112 camp, firmly believe that his arrest in April 2011, under the Abhisit administration, was politically motivated. Not only was Somyot a prominent Red Shirt with a long history of activism on labour issues, he was organizing a petition to challenge, and potentially abolish, article 112. 

(more…)

Read More