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‘LAWYER JUNE’ SUMMONED FOR ‘FALSE REPORTING’ CHARGE, THIRD CASE AGAINST HER WORK FOR PRO-DEMOCRACY ACTIVISTS

01/08/2017
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At 11:00 am on 2 August 2017, at Chanasongkram police station in Bangkok— Sirikan Charoensiri or ‘Lawyer June’ is scheduled to report to be informed of her charge, for allegedly submitting a false report to the police in violation of Sections 172[1] and 174[2] of the Thai Criminal Code. The allegation followed her filing a complaint of malfeasance in office against Pol Lt Gen Chayapol Chatchayadetch and other police officers for illegally impounding her car on 27 June 2015.

On 23 July 2017, June received a summons from the Bangkok’s Chanasongkram Police Station to be charged with criminal offences related to reporting false information on 21 July 2017. However, June was only aware of the summons after the set date because the summons was sent to the address in which she does not regularly reside. June, therefore, requested with the police to reschedule the reporting date to 2 August 2017.

June was previously summoned to report for these charges on 9 February 2016. However, she could not be informed of the charges since the inquiry officer could not point out which parts of the report were allegedly false. June will face a trial in the Criminal Court if indicted.

Earlier at 9:30 am on the same day, 2 August 2017, at Dusit District Prosecutors Office in Bangkok— June is also scheduled to report to the public prosecutor. June was charged with Sections 142 and 368 of the Thai Criminal Code for concealing evidence and refusing to comply with official orders, respectively, for her refusal to let warrantless officers search her car at night on 26 – 27 June 2015. On 2 May 2017, June requested to postpone her reporting to the public prosecutor in this case. The prosecutor stated that the indictment decision was pending at the Department of Attorney-General’s Decisions (DLAG).

After her last reporting on 17 January 2017, June received a letter from the prosecutor’s office, stating that it had concluded the case and issued its decision. (Read more) However, the case had been further submitted to Police Commissioner-General (of the Royal Thai Police) for consideration. On 2 May 2017, Dusit District Prosecutor’s Office stated that the Royal Thai Police had issued the decision, and that the case file was transferred to the Department of Attorney-General’s Decisions (DLAG), pending its consideration.

On 12 May 2016, June had submitted a letter of petition to Dusit District Prosecutor’s Office when she reported to hear the prosecution decision the first time. The letter stated the circumstantial evidence and legal opinions on the allegations, that on the night of 26 – 27 June 2015, the police attempted to conduct a warrantless search of her car without authority.1 A list of five witnesses were submitted, but only two were later scheduled to give statements. June will face a trial in the Criminal Court if indicted.

Background

Sirikan Charoensiri, aka June, is one of the legal representatives for the 14 student activists from New Democracy Movement (NDM). On the night of 26 – 27 June 2015, following the after-hour opening of Bangkok Military Court to investigate NDM activists who were arrested after staging peaceful protests against the ruling military junta and charged with sedition and violating the ban on political gathering of five or more persons, which resulted in students being brought into custody.

The police requested to search June’s car, which was parked in front of the Court building, to confiscate the students’ cellphones. Given that the officials did not have a court warrant and there was no justifiable evidence to conduct a search at night (around midnight of 26 June to 1 am of 27 June 2015), June refused to consent to the warrantless search. As a result, the police impounded her car, which contained hers and other lawyers’ case files and personal computers, and mobile phones belonging to the students. This caused June to guard her car in front of the Court all night.

Later in the afternoon of 27 June 2015, June went to a police station to file a complaint of malfeasance regarding the seizure of her car. The police refused to accept the complaint while another police team came with a court warrant to search her car. Five phones belonging to the students were seized as evidence.2

June attempted to file a complaint of malfeasance in office, under Section 157 of the Criminal Code, against Pol Lt Gen Chayapol Chatchayadetch and other officials for illegally impounding her car. A senior investigator told her that the police had power to search her car and suggested that if she filed a complaint, it would not finish there and that the police would consider a counter-charge in forms of legal action. The police finally accepted the complaint at 11:00 pm.

In February 2016, June was accused of refusing to comply with an order without reasonable cause or excuse after being informed of an order by officials holding power invested by the law, and of concealing or making away of property or document ordered by the officers to be sent as evidence or for execution of the law, under Sections 368[3] and 142[4] of the Criminal Code, respectively. She also received a summons for the offence of reporting false information concerning a criminal offence to an inquiry official, under Sections 172 and 174 of the Criminal Code.

Sedition Case – Pending police investigation: June was also charged with sedition-like offence (Section 116 of the Thai Criminal Code[5]) and violation of the Order of Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) no. 3/B.E.2558 (2015) which prohibits political gatherings of five or more persons, for her legal representation of the 14 then-jailed pro-democracy activists of New Democracy Movement (NDM) on 25 – 27 June 2015.

On 22 October 2016, at the Samranrat police station in Bangkok, June had been informed of her charges and denied all allegations. The accuser Lt Col Pongsarit Pawangkhanan claimed that, after the 14 NDM activists were taken to Bangkok Military Court on 26 June 2015, he saw June carrying a bag and an envelope rushing to her car and, later around midnight, refused to let the officers search her car, where later found 5 cellphones of NDM activists’. Further, the military investigation team later examined photos of June and found that she had allegedly been involved with NDM activities all along. Subsequently, Lt Col Pongsarit concluded that June’s alleged acts provided reasonable grounds to believe her association with NDM.

June later submitted a statement and a list of additional witnesses and evidence in November 2016, and had two witnesses give testimonies in December 2016. This case is pending the police investigation. June faces a maximum of seven years’ imprisonment. Since the alleged acts occurred before Head of the NCPO Order no. 55/B.E.2559 (2016)—ceasing the practice of trying civilian cases in military courts for crimes committed after 12 September 2016—came in effect, she will be tried in a military court if indicted.

Sirikan Charoensiri (June) is facing a total number of 15 yearsimprisonment in all three legal proceedings. The international community has expressed concerns on Junes cases, and released news reports and statements requesting a dismissal of all her charges. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) urges the international community to closely observe the case and be present at every stage of the proceedings in relfation to judicial harassment against lawyers and human rights defenders.

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[1] Section 172 Whoever, giving any false information concerning a criminal offence, which may likely cause injury to the other person or the public, to the Public Prosecutor, official conducting cases, inquiry official or any official who has the power to investigate the criminal cases, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding two years or fined not exceeding four thousand Baht (approx. USD 114), or both.

[2] Section 174 If the information according to Section 172 or Section 173 is in order to maliciously subject any person to the measures of safety, the offender shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding three years and fined not exceeding six thousand (approx. USD 171) Baht.

[3] Section 368 Whoever, being informed of an order of an official given according to the power invested bylaw, refuses to comply with the same without any reasonable cause or excuse, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding ten days or fined not exceeding five hundred (approx. USD 15) Baht, or both. If such order is an order authorized by law requiring a person to assist in carrying on the activities in the function of an official, the offender shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding one month or fined not exceeding one thousand (approx. USD 30) Baht, or both.

[4] Section 142 Whoever, damaging, destroying, concealing, making away with, losing or rendering useless any property or docu- ment seized or being kept by an official, or ordered to be sent as evidence or for execution of the law, whether the official keeps such property or document himself, or ordering such person or the other person to send or keep it, shall be punished with  imprisonment not exceeding three years or fine not exceeding 6,000 (approx. USD 171) Baht or both.

[5]

Section 116 Whoever makes an appearance to the public by words, writings or any other means which is not an act within the purpose of the Constitution or for expressing an honest opinion or criticism in order:

  1. To bring about a change in the Laws of the Country or the Government by the use of force or violence;
  2. To raise unrest and disaffection amongst the people in a manner likely to cause disturbance in the country; or
  3. To cause the people to transgress the laws of the Country, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding seven years.

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