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PM: Only the court can decide on UDD bail requests

Posted by arnon_k On December - 24 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) chair Thida Thavorseth can petition for bail for the seven detained UDD co-leaders, but the Criminal Court will decide whether to grant it or not, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Thursday.

“I earlier told Mrs Thida that she should consult the appropriate officials before submitting the bail petition, but the decision to grant bail [to the seven detained red shirts] lies with the court,” Mr Abhisit said.

He said the attorney-general or the Department of Special Investigation will decide whether to oppose bail. They have to consider whether the anti-government leaders would create problems if released.

“I believe the court would consider granting bail for each person on a case by case basis, and the court would not take politics into account in its deliberations,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said some of the red-shirts in detention may not be allowed bail by the court, particularly those facing the most serious charges.

It was normal for the DSI, which handles special cases such as those involving terrorism and possession of war weapons, and prosecutors and police who handled the investigation of other cases themselves, to oppose bail requests.

But it is the court that will decide on bail, individually, based on the seriousness of the charges and the personal behavior of each suspect, Mr Suthep said.

“The government’s policy is for the Rights and Liberties Protection Department to contact all suspects, especially those who did not get help from their relatives or red-shirt leaders, to see if they need help.

“Some of them never applied for bail simply because they did not know what to do.

“After the suspects apply for bail, the DSI and police will coordinate with prosecutors handling the cases to decide who should get bail and who should not. I and the government will not interfere in the process,” Mr Suthep said.

He declined to comment when asked if Natthawut Saikua, a UDD core member, should be freed on bail.

UDD chair Thida said the seven UDD co-leaders had not yet submitted bail requests. They only signed a petition asking for justice.

The Rights and Liberties Protection Department was preparing the requests, which would be accompanied by new evidence including documents from the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES), which did not object to granting bail, and some from abroad, she said.

DSI chief Tharit Pengdit said his agency opposed bail for five UDD leaders. He said the DSI had not objected to bail for Weng Tojirakarn and Korkaew Pikulthong from the beginning.

UDD lawyer Karom Polthaklang said he expected the requests for bail for seven UDD leaders to be submitted to the court on Dec 27.

The seven UDD key members, who are apprehended at Bangkok Remand Prison, are Weng (Mrs Thida’s husband), Natthawut, Korkaew, Wiphulthalaeng Pattanaphumthai, Yoswarit Chuklom (aka Jeng Dokchik), Khwanchai Sarakham and Nisit Sinthuprai.

Red-shirt charter amendment draft rejected

Posted by arnon_k On November - 25 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

MPs and senators Thursday voted to reject the constitutional amendment bill proposed by red-shirt voters.
The bill was proposed by the people�s committee for constitutional amendments headed by red-shirt leader weng Tojitrakarn. It was rejected with 235 to 22 votes. A total of 123 MPs and senators abstained.
Voting for three other bills was still going on.

Red shirts mark May 19 crackdown

Posted by arnon_k On November - 20 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Gathering at Ratchaprasong led by Jatuporn; big firecracker injures one
About 10,000 red shirts gathered at the Ratchaprasong intersection yesterday afternoon to mark the six-month anniversary of the deadly May 19 crackdown on red shirts. One of their leaders, Jatuporn Promphan, appeared in a bid to fill the leadership vacuum since the crackdown.

Just as the red shirts were dispersing, a big firecracker exploded in front of the Grand Hyatt Erawan, injuring one person.

Sombat Boon-ngam-anong, who came to the group’s rescue after May 19 and formed up the Red Sunday faction, was also there, with hundreds of supporters.

Sombat said shortly after 5pm that he planned to eat at Amarin Plaza’s McDonald’s which was used by red shirts during the protests in April and May this year as their de-facto restaurant, and also extended an invitation to Jatuporn to join them.

Jatuporn paid his respects at the famous Brahma shrine at the intersection and urged the crowd through a police megaphone to clear the way for traffic by 7pm as a royal motorcade was pass that way.

After Jatuporn announced the rally dispersal at 7pm, the roads were cleared and returned to normal traffic half an hour later. Many vehicles used in the rally had their licence plates covered with red cloth.

Meanwhile, Sombat spoke to the media in front of McDonald’s about the lack of clarity over the 91 deaths.

Rivalry or not, the mood yesterday was a mix of anger and defiance as many red shirts who came on their own shouted: “Bastard ordered the killing!” repeatedly, and some danced to the red tunes.

The Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) warned those selling “goods that cause [political and social] division” could be jailed for up to two years and fined as much as Bt40,000. One vendor peddled the controversial flip-flops with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban’s faces on them and managed to sell the goods, however.

Sam-arng Saithongthien-ngam, 63, a soft-drinks and cigarette vendor in Samut Prakan who is originally from Nakhon Nayok, said the red-shirt movement had been revived even though the leadership issue is still unsettled. “Whether there is a leader or not, we don’t care. We will demand democracy,” he told The Nation, adding that no reconciliation can take place without the release of hundreds of red-shirt “prisoners who are not really prisoners”.

A lot of bitterness and anger lingers in red shirts like Sam-arng, who frequently went to join the protests in April and May. “Many of my comrades died and you want me to forget about it? These people killed people with impunity like nothing we did was right. How can we live like this in the future?Where was the king? If His Majesty came out to speak at the time [in April and May], nobody would have been killed” he said, his eyes welling. “I wouldn’t mind if we were killed by foreign enemies. I was once a soldier, too, but I couldn’t believe that Thais killed Thais.”

Asked about the growing allegation that red shirts are out to overthrow the monarchy institution, Sam-arng replied: “Let me tell you frankly, we are not capable of that. But those who claim to be protecting the monarchy institution, it’s these people who can’t be trusted.”

Many of the protesters opted for subtle and ambiguous messages, knowing the authorities were keeping a close watch for lese majeste remarks, messages or placards. Police are looking to prosecute two red-shirt women who held defamatory placards on October 10 and were caught in pictures at a red-shirt gathering at Democracy Monument. “Truth never dies. But those who speak the truth may die or end up in jail,” one placard read. “Stop lying. We are not a fool,” read another message.

Thongjai, family name withheld, a 55-year-old businesswoman from Phitsanulok, came to Bangkok with three fellow reds. She said the movement would not just survive but grow. “The rift is deeper than before,” she added.

Earlier in the day, some 500 red shirts visited Bangkok Remand Prison to offer support to those detained. They later visited the Department of Special Investigation to demand a full report on the 91 deaths and vowed to camp out at the DSI if a report was not produced within a week

Red shirts’ kin reject DSI report

Posted by arnon_k On November - 19 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Military said to have blood on its hands
Relatives of protesters killed during the April-May anti-government demonstrations are furious at the “lack of transparency” in the government’s report into their deaths.
Some have claimed blood is on the hands of the military, not the red shirt protesters, as the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has claimed.

Banjerd and Suvimol Foongklinchan, parents of Terdsak, 29, who was killed on April 10 on Tanao Road, said Tuesday’s news conference by the DSI did not provide a clear picture of their son’s death. “Our son had six bullet holes in his body. We believe that was done by the military,” they said.

“We are waiting to get the court’s approval for an inquest. At least nine bodies have not yet been cremated, which means the families are still going through this ordeal.”

Relatives of the dead protesters called on the authorities to release autopsy and forensic reports to the public.

The group appeared at a news conference to lash out at the DSI which linked some of the victims killed in the government dispersal to red shirt members and its militia supporters.

The DSI said on Tuesday some of the 89 victims of the protests were killed by red shirt members and related groups.

It said it had completed inquiries into 18 cases and concluded that 12 were killed by members of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and militia who supported the movement.

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It also said six other victims were killed by unidentified gunmen. They included Japanese cameraman Hiroyuki Muramoto, Pvt Narongrit Sala, who was shot during clashes on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, Mana Atran, who was shot at Dusit Zoo, and three people found dead inside Wat Pathum Wanaram. The DSI said these six cases needed further investigation.

The court has delayed its consideration on whether to allow the inquest of the nine cases to be considered on Dec 27, citing official investigations against nine core leaders of the UDD responsible for the demonstrations.

Nattapat Akkahad, 21, a brother of volunteer nurse Kamolkade, who was killed at Wat Pathum Wanaram on May19, said the DSI’s claim that it needed to further investigate three of the six deaths at the temple before determining who killed them was a surprise for his family.

“It’s quite clear from an available video clip, bullet shell [evidence] and witnesses that my sister and, in fact, all of them were shot from above _ from the places where military were deployed,” Mr Nattapat said.

“The bullets were not fired from horizontal directions that might produce different conclusion about the killers.”

Phayao Akkahad, 45, Kamolkade’s mother, said she felt the DSI’s briefing was aimed more at appeasing the government rather than to explain frankly to the public who did what and when.

She said she was also disappointed with the progress of the Truth for Reconciliation Commission (TRC). None of the TRC members has talked to the relatives so far about the incidents.

Somjai Khemthong, 49, whose brother Mongkol was killed at the temple, said he was angry with the DSI’s briefing and the slow progress of the TRC’s work.

He said many relatives had signed a letter sent to the UN secretary-general last month asking the UN to investigate the killings in April and May, and to help those caught in the armed conflict.

The People’s Information Centre on the Crackdown said the DSI had discriminated against the UDD.

The agency had become a political tool for the government which was a party to the conflict, the centre said.

DSI chief Tharit Pengdit defended the department’s handling of the cases and said they were likely to be wrapped up by the end of the month.

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