Summary of Somyot’s first court hearing
On 21 Nov, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, editor of Voice of Taksin magazine and red-shirt leader, charged with lèse majesté, was brought to Sa Kaew Provincial Court for the first hearing of prosecution witnesses.
Pol Sen Sgt Maj Kanokrak Tanlo, an officer at the Aranyaprathet Immigration checkpoint in Sa Kaew, was the only prosecution witness for the day. She testified that on the day of the arrest, 30 April 2011, she was on passport control duty when Somyot submitted his passport to depart for Cambodia. When she put his name and identification number into the computer, she found that Somyot was a wanted person with an arrest warrant, so she informed her chief and the immigration investigators contacted the Department of Special Investigation.
The witness told the defense lawyer during cross examination that there were up to 5 border checkpoints along the Thailand-Cambodia border. Currently, many Cambodians and Thais cross illegally because the border between the two countries is mostly ordinary fields which they can walk across. ‘Instinctively, if one wants to flee or is aware of the risk, a person would not want to go through the immigration checkpoints,’ she told the defense lawyer in court.
Among 40-50 people who attended the court hearing were red shirts from Bangkok and Sa Kaew, as well as Somyot’s wife, a Sa Kaew native, and officials from the EU.
After the hearing, defense lawyer Suwit Thongnual said that the witness hearing today was useful for the preparation of a future bail request for Somyot, which would be the 7th, because it clearly showed that Somyot had never intended to flee as had been alleged by the Department of Special Investigation.
He said that the next hearings would be held in Phetchabun, Nakhon Sawan and Songkhla, and witnesses would include Somyot’s former employee and readers of the Voice of Taksin magazine. He had unsuccessfully objected to the court against having hearings in other provinces as he considered that some witnesses were unimportant and his client might be in danger during the long journeys, particularly in provinces where political conflicts are intense, he said.
Somyot, in prisoner clothes and shackled, said that living conditions in Sa Kaew prison were better than those of Bangkok Remand Prison in terms of food and environment, but it was crowded and overfilled with prisoners. Its normal capacity is 800 prisoners, but it now has almost 2,000, of which almost 300 were transferred in because of flooding. The prisoners have to squeeze tightly together to sleep, he said. When he was transported with other inmates from Bangkok Remand Prison in early Nov, the vehicle was so crowded that he had to stand all the way from Bangkok to Sa Kaew, he said.
For the full text of this article go to http://www.prachatai.com/journal/2011/11/37970