THAILAND: HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER SIRIKAN CHAROENSIRI FACING CRIMINAL CHARGES AFTER FILLING COMPLAINT AGAINST POLICE OFFICER
17 MARCH 2016
While working on a case involving 14 activists, the legal representative for the New Democracy Movement Sirikan Charoensiri has been charged for concealing evidence and refusing to comply with the authorities
On the night of June 26, 2015, Police officers requested to search Ms Sirikam’s car in order to seize the mobile phones of the activists for whom the lawyer was providing legal counsel. Ms Sirikam refused to comply since the police officer did not present any valid search warrant. Nevertheless, her car was pounded the same night and searched as a court warrant was brought the day after. Sirikam later filled a complaint against the police officer for illegally confiscating her car, after which Pol.Lt. Gen. Chayapol Chatchayadetch lodged a complaint against her for refusing to comply with an official and with an offense of concealing evidence and providing false information regarding a criminal case.
As the charges against Ms Sirikam for refusing to comply with the authorities and concealing evidence carry the maximum sentence rate not exceeding three years, the case falls within the jurisdiction of the Municipal or District Courts. According to the Thailand legislation, the investigation file must be completed by the inquiring official within 30 days from the hearing of the charges on February 9, 2016. Sirikam presented her witnesses and statements during the approved time frame following which the inquiring officer declared that the investigation could not be completed within the 30 days. As such, if the public prosecutor wishes to prosecute Sirikam, they must request the permission for the General Attorney, for which the law does not indicate any time frame.
For the charges of providing false information, the inquiry officer failed to indicate which information Ms Sirikam provided was false. He therefore did not press charges yet but Sirikam will most likely be summoned in the near future.
Meanwhile, the complaint filed by Ms Sirikam against Pol.Lt. Gen. Chayapol Chatchayadetch for Malfeasance remains under investigation.
Source: Press Release from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)