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Technical woes hinder move to get bail for 15 suspects accused of being in ‘secret society’

Aug 22. 2016
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TECHNICAL problems prevented 15 suspects from being granted bail after they were accused of forming a secret society and of criminal |association, their lawyer said yesterday.
Another bail attempt will be made today.
Initially the Military Court agreed to free them on bail under the condition that they report to authorities periodically, not travel |outside Thailand, not gather politically and not express political opinions, Thanadej Puangpoon, of the United Lawyers for Rights and Liberty, said.
That included the suspects no longer using Line to chat together, an act considered by police to be akin to a political gathering, Thanadej said. He posted Bt100,000 bail for each suspect as calculated by the court’s judges. The bonds, made up of a Bt1-million land-title document plus Bt500,000 cash, were gathered from the lawyer association’s funds and detainees’ relatives.
However the cash transaction failed to arrive on time and the bail request ended up being rejected. 
Prior to posting bail at Bangkok Military Court, Thanadej visited the detainees in Bangkok Remand Prison, where he also met their relatives. “They’re hoping for the judges’ mercy,” the lawyer said. “One detainee lives with his eight-year-old daughter in Chiang Rai. Now there’s no one to take care of her.”
Thanadej was referring to 71-year-old Chinnaworn Thipnual, who, like most of detainees, is deemed to be a provincial red-shirt leader.
  Seventeen suspects were arrested on August 13 following coordinated attacks in seven Southern provinces between August 10 to 12. Two of them were released from a military camp for unknown reason.
The 15 remaining suspects, most of whom are elderly, were initially suspected of plotting the deadly bomb attacks. Police later determined that not to be correct and the suspects instead have been charged with allegedly breaking the junta’s order banning the formation of a secret society.
A security source told The Nation the suspects were deemed to have had the potential to stir up more political strife in the aftermath of the bomb attacks.
Thanadej said Revolutionary Front for Democracy was the name of the suspects’ Line group and they chatted about political matters, but they were not a revolutionary group. 
The name derived from one of the members being an ex-communist insurgent, he said.
 He noted that one of the suspects, a vendor, joined the group because she was in a relationship with another member and knows nothing about politics. 
The detainees, nine of whom are elderly, were not capable of staging a political plot to cause riots, he said. 
“Some of them simply met for coffee,” he said. 
“One of them possess war weapons but |only because he was an antique seller. He |had planned to report his possessions to |police but was caught beforehand.”
The lawyer refused to identify the suspect.
He said some United Nations agencies were “rather interested” in the case as they questioned the legitimacy of the allegations.
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan insisted that the detainees were not being used as scapegoats and were arrested based on authorities’ investigation into their “intensified movements.”
 “They might have carried out [a political operation] for long time,” Prawit said, in an attempt to try to explain why many of suspects were old.
 “They’re breaking current laws. If they violate the law and the [interim] charter, regardless of how young or old they are, they have to be prosecuted,” Prawit said.

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