| 30 May 2024, Thursday |

Thai court grants bail to 2 protest leaders in jail for royal insults

Tuesday in Thailand, a court granted bail on charges of insulting the nation’s powerful king, to 2 anti-government protest leaders who spent weeks in pretrial detention.

The court agreed that Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, 22 and Chaiamorn “Ammy,” 32 Kaewwiboonpan, should be released under the conditions they remain in Thailand, that they will attend court hearings upon convocation, and refrain from damaging monarchy and disturbing activities, the court said in a declaration.

The pair were repeatedly denied bail on charges of protest last year in which tabuistic calls for the reform of the monarchy were issued.

Chaiamorn is being prosecuted for lese majeste or insulting the monarchy, a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison for each offence, and is accused of burning a portrait of the king in February.

Parit was hospitalized two weeks ago due to deteriorating health caused by 46 days of hunger strike. He is accused of various violations, including sedition and insulting the monarchy.

A bail hearing for another activist, Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, was postponed on Tuesday pending the result of a coronavirus test, the court said.

The student-led demonstrations made once-unthinkable calls for reforming Thailand’s monarchy, considered by many conservatives to be sacrosanct.

They also demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former army chief and staunch royalist who first came to power in a 2014 coup.

He stayed on as prime minister after a 2019 election, the rules of which his critics say were designed to ensure he remained in power. Prayuth says he was fairly elected.

Last week, another protest leader, Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, 22, was given bail after eight weeks in detention. She is also charged with lese majeste and took part in a hunger strike with Parit.

At least two more protest leaders including human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa and Chukiat “Justin” Saengowng remain in detention, where they have been infected with COVID-19.

  • Reuters