Thai court reverses decision, releases two alleged protest organizers on bail

Bangkok, Sep 7 (efe-epa).- Thai authorities on Monday released two student protest leaders on bail days after they were remanded in custody last week for violating the terms of their conditional release, judicial sources said.

Anon Nampa, a lawyer and activist, and Panupong Jadnok, a student leader, were released after the police walked back on their previous request and asked for the pair to be let out on bail, saying it would not jeopardize the investigation into the charges against them, according to a statement from the Bangkok Criminal Court.

 Anon and Panupong were arrested on 7 August for charges of violating the state of emergency decree imposed by the government to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and the crime of sedition, among others, after allegedly organizing several protests since 18 July.

Another 12 organizers of the almost daily protests have been detained since 7 August and face the same charges as Anon and Panupong, who could face up to seven years in jail. All of 12 detainees have been released on bail.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators, mainly young students, have repeatedly taken to the streets of Bangkok over the summer.

The student protests have called for a curtailing of powers in the Thai military, which since the end of the country’s absolute monarchy in 1932 have launched a total of 13 coup d’états.

To this end, one of their main focuses has been current prime minister Prayut Chan-ocha, a former general who led the 2014 military coup and who was elected head of the government in a 2019 election that has been described by detractors, opposition parties and international observers as rigged and non-transparent.

Centered around the country’s universities, the rallies have also addressed one of the country’s biggest taboos by opening a debate around Thailand’s powerful royal family.

The Asian nation has some of the toughest lèse majesté laws in the world and criticizing or insulting the country’s royal family can lead to a 15-year prison sentence. EFE-EPA


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