THE MILITARY court yesterday turned down a request for the temporary release of eight people being detained for allegedly violating the Computer Crime Act.
The eight activists had been arrested by military officers earlier in the week, in connection with their social-media messages allegedly attacking the draft constitution in the run-up to the referendum. The military court found that their acts were “severe”, according to their lawyer Winyat Chartmontri, who accompanied them to the court.
Crime Suppression Division officers yesterday took the eight accused persons to the military court seeking permission to detain them for another 12 days. Winyat said yesterday that they had offered bail of Bt100,000 for each of the accused. The accused argued that they had no reasons to jump bail and that they had permanent residences.
After the military court’s judgement, the seven accused men were taken to the Bangkok Remand Prison and the accused woman was taken to the Central Women’s Correctional Institution for detention.
Earlier yesterday, the Criminal Court rejected a petition seeking the release of four of the eight people being detained for allegedly violating the Computer Crime Act. The petition was filed by their family members, who alleged that the accused were being detained unlawfully under military custody.
The court was told that the arresting military officers did not produce any arrest warrants. But the court ruled that the officers were empowered under an order by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
Meanwhile, red-shirt leader Sombat Boonngamanong yesterday denied any connection with any of the eight accused. He said some of them had worked for him before the military coup in May 2014. Sombat questioned the accuracy of a diagram distributed by the military that links him to some of the eight accused persons.
“In a democracy, people in power must be subject to criticism. You are not immune from criticism. This is not North Korea,” the activist said.
Also yesterday, Government Spokesman Maj-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd hit back at Amnesty International, which criticised the government for arresting the eight Facebook commenters and called for their immediate release.
Sansern said all Thais had the right to access and use social media as long as they did not violate the law.
“Millions of Thai people are using this medium without any problem or impact,” he said. He also said that the eight were arrested because they had violated the law by infringing on other people’s rights and causing hatred in society. “This is tantamount to undermining society, which goes against the country’s need for peace and order,” the spokesman added.
In a related development, Royal Thai Police deputy spokesman Pol Colonel Krissana Pattanacharoen yesterday advised Internet users to be careful about spreading messages through social media. He said they should make sure that what they were sharing would not be defamatory or provocative, among others.