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Key witness in 2010 crackdown rearrested on release from jail

Jul 25. 2017
Natthathida Meewangpla
Natthathida Meewangpla
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By KAMPANANT LA-ONG
THE NATION

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A KEY witness in killings at Wat Pathum Wanaram in 2010 during a crackdown on red-shirt protesters was immediately arrested on Monday night for lese majeste after she was released on bail in a separate political case.

Natthathida Meewangpla, who is also known as “Waen”, 39, was detained by police as she walked out of prison after being granted bail in the case relating to a bombing at the Criminal Court in Bangkok’s Ratchadapisek area. 

The lese majeste charge was brought against her by Colonel Wijan Joddaeng, director of the law and human rights department of the Internal Security Operations Command, in March 2015. The allegation was based on the grounds that Natthathida had sent text messages deemed insulting to the monarchy to several chat groups via the LINE messaging app.

A police source said yesterday that during questioning, Natthathida had said the incident had taken place a long time ago and she had forgotten about it. 

Natthathida has been in prison for nearly two-and-a-half years after she was arrested for allegedly being involved in the court bombing case, facing charges of terrorism, membership in an unlawful secret society, unlawful possession of military weapons and attempted murder. She was also accused of transferring money to the bombers in the case.

With the help of lawyers and friends, she was freed on bail on Monday to fight the case but immediately rearrested.

Natthathida said she had not known that the messages she had sent in 2015 violated Section 112 of the Criminal Code dealing with lese majeste and did not remember the details. 

The messages had been widely shared and forwarded previously, she said.

A police source said she would be tried in a military court.

At the time of the 2010 crackdown, Natthathida was a nursing volunteer in the same tent as six people who were killed at the temple.Red-shirt protesters have accused the military of intentionally shooting into the temple where medical volunteers were helping injured protesters. 

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