The four face charges of Lèse-majesté and sedition under Article 112 and 116 of the criminal code. The Deputy Chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, Piya Tawichai, on Wednesday made it clear that the political rally called for the Skywalk in Pathumwan was illegal under the Covid-19 Emergency Decree.

Pro-democracy protests have begun again in Bangkok as the Metropolitan Police Bureau deployed over 1,000 officers to preserve public safety in the Pathumwan area of the city. It follows the jailing of 4 key protest leaders by the Criminal Court on Tuesday after they were refused bail because of both the seriousness of the charges they were facing and the strong likelihood they would re-offend.

Four protest leaders were jailed on Tuesday after the Criminal Court refused them bail when they appeared on Lèse-majesté and sedition charges. On Wednesday, Police Major General Piya Tawichai, the Deputy Chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau announced plans to deploy 1,000 officers at the planned political rally in Pathumwan.

Pro-democracy, student-led protests were back on the streets of Thailand on Wednesday following the jailing of four key leaders of the Ratsadon movement by the Criminal Court on Tuesday.

The activists appeared before the court on Article 112 for Lèse-majesté and sedition charges under Article 116. They pleaded not guilty.

March 15th set for the hearing of evidence in the trial of the 4 pro-democracy protest leaders by the court

A date was sent March 15th for an evidentiary hearing as a trial on the charges proceeds through the legal process. 

However, when the defendant’s broached the subject of collateral for bail and release pending a court determination of the charges against them, they were told that it would not be possible.

The four accused were Parit ‘Penguin Chiwarak, Arnon Nampa, Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and Patiwat ‘Bank’ Saraiyam.

Mr Parit who is also known as ‘Penguin’ to protest followers, was also charged in connection with protests on the Ratchadamnoen Road in mid-November last year.

Matters before the court could see heavy sentences imposed on the accused and made them a flight risk

The court told the defendants in the case that the matters before the court were weighty and if found guilty, they faced serious consequences including long terms in prison. Thus they were a flight risk. 

In addition, the court was fully satisfied given the history of the defendants since last year, that they were likely to commit the same offences again.

Over 1,000 police officers to be deployed

On Wednesday, Police Major General Piya Tawichai, the Deputy Chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, briefed the media on preparations by his officers for a protest expected at the Skywalk in Bangkok in Pathumwan.

He said over 1,000 police officers would take part in an operation designed to preserve public safety. He also made it clear that the proposed rally is illegal under the Emergency Decree in force because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘Three of the companies will deal with crowd control, while the other four will come from Metropolitan Police divisions 5 and 6,’ Police Major General Piya told reporters. ‘The main mission of the officers is to ensure public safety and prevent the situation from escalating. Initially, only one or two companies of crowd-control police will be deployed, while additional companies will stand ready in case the situation escalates.’

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