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Military courts: How they differ

Sep 18. 2016
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The Military Court is intended for criminal trials of military personnel.

However, soon after the military coup, the National Council for Peace and Order issued Orders Number 37 and 38/2557 for lese majeste, security and

disobeying NCPO order offences to be heard in the Military Court.

In normal times, the Military Court has the same three tiers as the normal courts of justice.

However, in extraordinary times such as when martial law is declared, appeals are not allowed.

Crime suspects falling under NCPO Orders Nos 37 and 38/2557 could not request a new hearing until Martial Law was lifted in April of last year.

The Military Court is similar to the courts of justice in following the Criminal Procedure Code, but comes under the Defence Ministry, not the Justice Ministry.

The Military Court has a quorum of three, but two judges are military officers, not necessarily with a law degree.

Only one of the judges, known as a “staff judge advocate”, has academic


Hearings and the investigation can be conducted in absentia if the

defendants plead guilty or do not specifically request otherwise.

Two years after the military took power, 1,811 people have been tried in the Military Court in connection with 1,546 cases, of which nearly three-quarters were about weapons offences.

The rest were lese majeste, security and disobedience of NCPO orders.

Sources: iLaw and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights

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