By The Nation
Another suspect was taken into military custody yesterday as authorities intensified their operation against alleged anti-junta individuals who posted, shared or just clicked “like” on Internet posts about the Rajabhakti Park scandal, while police set up a working group to hunt for more suspects.
Thanet Anantawong, 25, was detained yesterday at a military camp for sharing information about the scandal on his Facebook account, a day after a military court issued an arrest warrant for him.
He was charged with lese majeste, sedition and computer crime for sharing an infographic that linked many senior officials in the government and the military to the Rajabhakti scandal, according to Col Burin Thongprapai, a member of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s legal team.
Thanet is the second suspect to be arrested on charges related to the infographic.
Last week, Thanakorn Siripaiboon, a 27-year-old factory worker in Samut Prakarn province, was arrested after sharing the same graphic about the scandal.
Officials believe that Thanakorn and Thanet are members of the same movement, which involves other members who have now opened a new Facebook account launching a campaign against the military. They have posted more false information online about the Rajabhakti Park project, said an official who declined to be named, with the intention to discredit and insult the military and its operations. The official added that the military would seek their arrests.
Meanwhile, human right groups have expressed grave concerns over the secretive prosecution procedures, demanding that the NCPO disclose Thanakorn’s whereabout.
“Thanakorn’s secret detention should set off flashing red lights – especially since the Thai authorities failed to resolve two recent deaths of detainees in military custody,” said Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch Asia director. “Thailand’s junta has increasingly flouted international legal protections by holding civilian detainees incommunicado in military camps.”
Thanakorn was arrested last Tuesday. The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) association said it has been contacted by Thanakorn’s relatives and asked to give legal assistance the following day. The legal group made an inquiry at the Nakhon Chaisri temporary remand facility located in the 11th Military Circle, and was informed by a custodial officer that Thanakorn was not being held there and the facility staff had no idea of his whereabouts.
Detained under Section 44
Meanwhile, a plainclothes military officer from an unknown unit informed the TLHR that Thanakorn was being held in custody under Section 44 of the 2014 Interim Constitution, although he could not provide more information about his whereabouts.
On Friday, Thanakorn’s relatives were informed by Samut Prakan police that the case had been reported to the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) and advised them to contact the relevant authorities.
The TLHR then contacted Subdivision 2 of the CSD. “We were informed by the CSD police that the case had been reported to them and the arrest warrant against Thanakorn issued, but he had not yet been sent to police custody,” the TLHR said in a statement.
Burin, from the NCPO’s legal team, said officials would bring Thanakorn to the CSD today and might ask permission from a military court to continue his detention.
Pawinee Chumsri, a lawyer with the TLHR, said she would wait with Thanakorn’s mother today at the CSD offices to see if the military handed him over to police.
In a related development, Pol Maj-General Chayapol Chatchaidej of Royal Thai Police’s Strategic Office said police would set up a working group focused on cases related to the Rajabhakti scandal as the military arrests more suspects.
“People should not share, post or click ‘like’ on any information about a diagram on the scandal, otherwise they could face legal consequences in accordance with the law on computer crimes,” Chayapol said.