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TWO leaders of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) were detained on Monday because their action was aimed at causing public confusion instead of checking on corruption as claimed, Government Spokesman Maj-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said yesterday.

UDD leaders Jatuporn Promphan and Nuttawut Saikuar were detained while they were planning to go to the Rajabhakti Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan province purportedly to check on alleged graft in the construction of the park.

Sansern said that though the park was not a restricted area, the duo did not really have the authority to check on corruption allegations there. “If they really wanted to check on the alleged corruption, they should have looked at the documents. Their action instead was deemed as instigating chaos and public confusion as agencies checking on the project have not reported any graft,” he said.

He said the government had to stop the two from going to the park, because there were people who disagree with the red-shirt leaders and it is believed they were planning a confrontation.

“We did not want the conflict to escalate into violence, and have taken the two in to ask for cooperation to not stage such activities,” he said.

Nuttawut and Jatuporn were released on Monday night.

Meanwhile, sources from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) said the two were detained at a military camp in Kanchanaburi province. After eating with the red-shirt leaders, the security officials spent about two hours talking to them. After that, the officials decided not to press charges as the duo were willing to cooperate. The Criminal Court had previously banned them from staging any political activities as a bail condition.

The red-shirt leaders were released after signing a document stating that they had been released and that they had been taken care of while in detention, that they were not assaulted, tortured or forced to sign any unfair contracts. The statement also had them promise that they would not stage any political rallies, create conflicts or disturb peace.

If they violate the contract, they stand to face legal action with their financial transactions suspended.

Army spokesman and NCPO spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvari said Army chief General Theerachai Nakawanich would ensure security this month, when His Majesty’s birthday will be marked. The Army chief has called on all state agencies to support events this month and security officials have been told to ensure there is no trouble so this is a “month of happiness” for all.

‘Men in black’ deal red shirts a blow

Posted by pakin On November - 3 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

special report: Political favour tips against UDD since the coup, writes Nattaya Chetchotiros

The police’s unveiling of the so-called “men in black” has been a game changer for red shirts embroiled in the legal consequences of 2010’s political violence.

It appears to tip the balance back in favour of the other side of the political conflict, represented by Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and former Democrat secretary-general, Suthep Thaugusban, whom the red shirts hold to account for the bloody consequences of the violent clashes four years ago.

The Democrat-led government, which was trying to hang on to power against a red-shirt led protest movement, claims the other side hired the men in black to shoot soldiers and innocent protesters, stoking a civil war to ensure it lost power.

The red shirts led by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship have always denied the men in black’s existence, though several recent developments – including the arrests of five men police identify as the men in black – have upset their case.

The sense of unease among the red-shirt cause only increased last month with the appointment of Suwana Suwanjuta as Department of Special Investigation chief, who was hand-picked by the coup-maker the National Council for Peace and Order.

The red shirts fear a change at the top could have a knock-on effect on the investigation into the previously elusive men in black.

Both the red shirts and the other side – represented by Mr Abhisit Vejjvajiva and Phra Suthep – are locked in legal disputes connected to 2010’s political upheaval.

Mr Abhisit and Phra Suthep were indicted for allegedly ordering the soldiers to shoot the red-shirt protesters.

The pair appeared to be losing ground, particularly during the previous Yingluck Shinawatra government when the DSI, headed by Tarit Pengdith, made no mention of the men in black in its probes against the former premier and his deputy.

Mr Tarit carried on working as DSI chief despite the change of government. He was a member of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (Cres) which cracked down on the red-shirt protesters.

Some argue that under the Yingluck government the red shirts gained ground in their calls for justice against the Democrat pair. However, crucial turning points came after the May 22 coup with the identification of the men in black, which followed the Criminal Court’s dismissal of the case against Mr Abhisit and Phra Suthep, and the changing of the guard at the DSI.

On Aug 28, the Criminal Court dismissed the case against the ex-premier and his deputy, saying it did not have the authority to try the case and the jurisdiction rested with the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions. The case now goes to the National Anti-Corruption Commission which is investigating the pair for abuse of authority, rather than murder.

If indicted by the prosecution, they will be tried in the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.

The case is now treated as a political one based on alleged abuse of power. The lawyers representing the red-shirts have appealed against the Criminal Court’s decision not to pursue the case.

The tide of political favour went against the red shirts again with the appointment of Pol Gen Somyot Phumpanmuang as national police chief. In early September he brought before the media five people who admitted to being the men in black.

Kittisak Soomsri, 45, Chamnan Phakeechai, 45, Preecha Yuyen, 24, Ronnarit Suricha, 33, and a 39-year-old woman, Punika Chusri were accused of using war weapons during the 2010 red-shirt protests in Bangkok which resulted in the deaths of soldiers and 21 others, including a foreign journalist during the Khok Wua intersection clash.

Red-shirt UDD co-leader Veerakarn Musikapong asked if the suspects were not in fact scapegoats, a claim Pol Gen Somyot denies.

The naming last week of Ms Suwana as head of the DSI comes as another setback for the red shirts.

She succeeds Pol Gen Chatchawal Suksomjit, senior adviser to the Royal Thai Police Office, who led the DSI for about five months after taking over from Mr Tarit.

Winyat Chatmontri, a lawyer representing the men in black, said the legal proceedings involving the men would have gone more smoothly had Mr Tarit still supervised the DSI.

The DSI is taking care of most aspects of the investigation into the men in black while delegating the probe specific to the weapons which they allegedly possessed during the protest to the Crime Suppression Division.

The CSD forwarded the case to the prosecution on Sept 15.

Mr Winyat said the men in black retracted their earlier confession, which they said was made under duress. His clients told him the authorities tortured them.

“Soldiers visited the men in their cells and asked why they claimed they had been assaulted in custody. This shows that mistreatment persists as we speak,” he said. The police dismissed the torture claim.

Mr Winyat and the Free Thai Legal Aid group on Friday petitioned the DSI to ensure fairness in the men in black probe.

He said no one in his lawyers’ team knows Ms Suwana personally, but it could be reasonably assumed the military government would want to install someone in the DSI who they can “control”.

Mr Winyat insisted that even if a directive had been issued that might dictate the course of the investigation, he was certain no one could twist the facts and the truth.

Ms Suwana, however, made it clear she has received no instruction from the government on how to conduct the probe related to the men in black.

“I’m aware some people might think of me as mere political conduit, but I can tell you now that I work with no preconceived agenda,” she said.

She said criminal investigations might not be her strength. But she has many legal experts at the department to help her.

Meanwhile, Bundit Siripan, lawyer to Mr Abhisit and Phra Suthep, said the retraction of the men in black’s statements would not stop authorities from tracking down the perpetrators of political violence.

Red-shirt organisation submits open letter to acting police chief

Thailand’s acting police chief Thursday denied allegations that police had linked the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship with the so-called “men in black”.

Speaking after a meeting with top UDD officials, national police chief-designate Somyos Pumpanmuang said police had never named any group as being behind the five “men in black” arrested last week. Furthermore, he said, he never asserted they were responsible for the death of then-Col Romklao Thuwatham during the 2010 red-shirt protests.

The four men and one woman arrested and brought to a much-publicized press conference were charged only with illegal possession of military-grade weapons, he said.

UDD leaders Jatuporn Prompan, former UDD chairwoman Tida Thawornseth, her husband Weng Tojirakarn, and a team of lawyers submitted an open letter to Pol Gen Somyos Thursday, asking that investigators strictly work within the law in handling the “men in black” cases.

The letter also requested investigators ensure fairness and transparency in their inquiry and refrain from any human-rights violations to extract confessions.

Pol Gen Somyos said police oppose the idea of coercing confessions with physical abuse or intimidation, so all the suspects would be treated with justice.

Following Pol Gen Somyos’s comments, Mr Jatuporn said he was satisfied with the deputy police chief’s explanation. He stressed that the UDD did not submit its open letter in an effort to protect the five suspects, but simply to clarify that the group was not involved with suspects or even know them.

The UDD complained in the letter that information initially released by police at a their Sept 13 press conference led the public to think that the suspects had caused the death of Col Romklao, who was promoted posthumously to general, and four other soldiers during a clash between the military and red-shirt protesters at the Khok Wua intersection on April 10, 2010.

However, the UDD said, further investigation found that the victims were killed by M67 grenades, not the weapons the “men in black” were charged with possessing.

The press conference, the UDD alleged, was intended to lead the public to believe the political violence in 2010 and 2014 was linked, without giving providing evidence.

As such, the group asked Pol Gen Somyos to turn over all cases involving soldiers and civilians killed in 2010 to the Department of Special Investigation. That inquiry should be carried out quickly and properly in line with the legal procedures that weren’t followed before, the group said.

For example, the UDD wrote, the bodies of soldiers killed in the political violence had not undergone a proper post-mortem examination as required by the Criminal Procedures Code, except for Pvt Narongrit Sala.

Most of the cases concerning the 2010 political violence fall under the responsibility of DSI, but the Royal Thai Police Office is responsible for military-weapons cases.

Three held for leaflet drop

Posted by pakin On September - 1 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Flyer urges Abhisit, Suthep to face charges

Police detained three people in the Chatuchak area after they distributed a leaflet demanding criminal action against former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his former deputy Suthep Thaugsuban for ordering the 2010 crackdowns.

The three are relatives of people killed in the crackdown, and were held briefly without charge. They were released last night.

They are Payao Akkahad and Nathaphat Akkahad, the mother and younger brother of Kamolkade, a volunteer nurse who was killed by a sniper at Wat Pathumwanaram, and Pansak Srithep, the father of 17-year-old Samaphan Srithep who was killed on Ratchaprarop Road in the military crackdown against United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) protesters in May 2010.

The Criminal Court on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit against Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep on murder and attempted murder charges for ordering the crackdown.

Mrs Payao and Mr Nathaphat were arrested about 10.45am while distributing the leaflet at the BTS skytrain’s Chatuchak station. Mr Pansak was arrested about 10 minutes later while dropping leaflets from an overpass near Chatuchak Park. The three were brought to Bang Sue police station for questioning.

Police were deployed in the Chatuchak area yesterday morning after receiving information about the plan to distribute the leaflets.

Mrs Payao said she just wanted to express her disappointment about the court’s acquittal. “If the people who gave the order for the fatal crackdown are let off, they will be free to do the same again. I want to say something, it’s my right as a mother to call for justice in this country,” she said.

Her daughter, Kamolkade, was killed together with five others inside Wat Pathumwanaram on May 19, the last day of the anti-Abhisit government demonstrations.

Pol Lt Gen Amnuay Nimmano, acting deputy police metropolitan commander, said the two former leaders could still stand trial in the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office-Holders after the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) stepped in to lay charges.

“The lawsuit has to be forwarded to the NACC within 30 days. It doesn’t mean Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep have been acquitted as these protesters seem to believe,” said Pol Lt Gen Amnuay.

The NACC is also investigating alleged malfeasance against the pair in connection with the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation’s dispersal order.

It said if the NACC finds there are grounds to the malfeasance allegation, the anti-graft agency must also forward this case to the Supreme Court.

Police earlier said they planned to file a libel suit against the trio who dropped the leaflets, as the wording also accuses three other people of being involved in the crackdown. They are former army chief Gen Anupong Paochinda, Prime Minister and army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and former deputy army chief Gen Datong Rattanasuwan.

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