Court says release protest leader, treason charges to come: The Criminal Court of Thailand on Thursday ordered the release of anti-government protest leader Sonthiyan Chuenruthainaitham on February 17, rejecting a police request to detain him for another seven days, according to reports.
The government’s Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) responded by saying they will attempt to keep him in detention by charging him with insurrection under Section 113 of the Criminal Code, according to Tarit Pengdith, chief of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).
Police arrested Mr Sonthiyan on February 10 while he was eating alone at the Central Department Store at Lat Phrao in Bangkok.
He was among the 19 leaders of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee who had arrest warrants issued against them for allegedly violating the emergency decree during their campaign to shutdown Bangkok.
Police can detain him for interrogation for seven days under the emergency decree, a period which would end on February 17.
Police took him to court Thursday morning and applied to detain him for an additional seven days.
But the court ruled there was no reason to detain him beyond the initial seven-day period, saying the police had plenty of time to question him, according to reports.
Mr Sonthiyan had reportedly cooperated well with the authorities since his arrest.
He even thanked the police at Region 1 Border Patrol Police headquarters for taking good care of him during his time in detention.
Mr Sonthiyan indicated he would take legal action against the police who searched his house on Tuesday in Nakhoon Pathom, according to reports.
Mr Tarit said the CMPO intends to file treason charges against him on February 15, and to ask for the court’s permission to detain him for 12 days at a time, seeking extensions each time, according to a Bangkok Post report.
The insurrection charge carries a heavier penalty than the charge of breaking the emergency law, and the court will decide whether to release Mr Sonthiyan on bail, Mr Tarit added.