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600 cops to line streets as jailed protest leaders decry double standards

Demonstrators will march from Victory Monument to the prime minister's residence at at the 1st Infantry Regiment barracks, King's Guard, on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road on Sunday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Demonstrators will march from Victory Monument to the prime minister’s residence at at the 1st Infantry Regiment barracks, King’s Guard, on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road on Sunday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Six hundred police officers will be deployed on Sunday with Free Youth group demonstrators planning to march from Victory Monument to the prime minister’s house at the 1st Infantry Regiment barracks, King’s Guard, on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road.

Deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) Pol Maj Gen Piya Tawichai had assessed the rally in terms of expected turnout and the risk of third parties instigating violence.

He said the MPB has prepared four companies of police officers to maintain order. Pol Maj Gen Piya said police had not yet decided whether to use containers to block the road leading to the 1st Infantry Regiment barracks as they did during previous rallies, adding that barriers would be used only if necessary to avoid any significant impact on commuters.

“I am concerned over possible violence during the protest as explosives were used [in past demonstrations],” he said. Messages from the Free Youth group invited people to join the rally seemed to suggest an incident might happen, he added.

Meanwhile, Noraset Nanongtoom, a lawyer from the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights group, yesterday tweeted on the Appeal Court’s ruling dismissing an appeal for the temporarily release of pro-democracy protest leaders including Parit Chiwarak, Arnon Nampa, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk and Patiwat “Mor Lam Bank” Saraiyaem.

The four have been detained since Feb 9 on lese majeste and other charges relating to anti-government demonstrations. They were denied bail three times earlier.

Mr Noraset said the application submitted to the court on Friday outlined four points that he believed supported the release of the four. The first was a cash bond of 400,000 baht for each defendant, which was more than the previous bail request.

Charnvit Kasetsiri, a former rector of Thammasat University, and Panas Tassaneeyanon, a former dean of the university’s Faculty of Law, had agreed to act as guarantors for the defendants, he said. He said the defendants also posed no flight risk, had not yet found been guilty and all had permanent residences.

Prajak Kongkirati, an academic who supports the Ratsadorn group, also tweeted on the court’s ruling. The academic compared the four to the eight former leaders of the disbanded People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) who were granted bail on Friday on charges relating to the street protests which ousted the Yingluck Shinawatra administration. He used a Thai hashtag that means equal bail.

On Friday, Mr Noraset, acting as legal counsel of the Ratsadorn group, filed an appeal for the release of the four protest leaders after the court temporarily released eight former PDRC leaders on bail of 800,000 baht each.

The eight were jailed on Wednesday by the Criminal Court, but walked out of Bangkok Remand Prison on Friday afternoon after the Appeal Court granted them bail.

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