Report of Somyot’s hearing 19th December
On December 19 Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, editor of the Voice of Taksin magazine was moved from Sakeaw prison to Petchaboon for the second hearing of the prosecution case against him.
Somyot was brought to the court in shackles, despite the recent call by the Thai Truth For Reconciliation Commission to ban them on the basis of the UN Human Rights Declaration. Despite this, Somyot looked confident and calm when he arrived, telling protesters that the new Petchaboon prison was adequate but because of overcrowding, with the number of inmates rising from 200 to 2000 since the floods, it was difficult to sleep. Somyot’s existing health conditions make it difficult for Somyot to manage these moves, and the upcoming relocation to Songkhla for the fourth trail hearing. Somyot is concerned about his safety during this process, both in terms of his health and his security in relation to the charges against him.
When asked about the climate of Pectcaboon, he answered “Quite cool ,but my family give me the sweaters ,don’t worry”. He told the reporters that while he stayed at Petchaboon prison supporters came to visit him every day from Bangkok and the local area. He smiled with pleasure when heard that in the morning more than 70 supporters from Thailand and internationally gathered in front of Petchaboon court demanding the release of all political prisoners.
During the hearing Benja Homwann, former administrator at the Voice of Taksin and prosecution witness, gave her testimony. During questioning she was not able to confirm Somyot’s connection to the article written by “Jit Pollacan” on the 6th October 2010, the basis for charges brought against Somyot. She was not able to confirm either his authorship or whether he had edited the article before publication.
Phee Jung Sun, an international observer and friend of Somyot’s who attended the court hearing commented that “The international community is surprised by the lack of freedoms for journalists in Thailand. If we arrest people who express their political opinions then this is a violent attack on freedom of speech, something that the international community, particularly the European Union, is deeply concerned about.”
Somyot will be sent to Nakornsawan for the third trail hearing and then to Songkhla for the fourth trail. Suwit Thongnuan, Somyot’s lawyer is concerned about the risk to Somyot during the relocation of each hearing and requested that Somyot be granted bail or returned to Bangkok where the majority of witnesses are located. “The hearings in the provinces serve to isolate Somyot from his family and friends, as well as me, his lawyer denying him his right to a fair trial.” Both requests were denied by the court.