Free Press Journal

Thai activists urge end to military court trials


Bangkok: Thailand rights groups have urged the government to stop holding trials of civilians in military courts, the media reported. They reiterated their calls after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced that a civilian court would handle the cases relating to the suspected bombers of Bangkok’s Erawan shrine, the Bangkok Post reported.

The prime minister said on Tuesday that the cases were serious for both Thai and foreign suspects allegedly involved in the deadly blasts and the justice process had to be universally acceptable. Prayut made his remarks after police sought approval from the Min Buri Court to detain Yusufu Mieraili, 25, a prime suspect in the Erawan shrine blast for questioning, who was handed over to police on Monday and had spent the previous week in military custody.

Yaowalak Anuphan, head of the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights Centre, said all civilians should be tried in a civilian court only, regardless of the charges they face. However, after last year’s military coup, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) made it mandatory for any criminal cases relating to national security to be tried in military courts.

The NCPO’s order, widely decried by human rights agencies and the international community, has been used sweepingly in politically-motivated cases which have involved critics of the regime, human rights activists said. According to sources, over 700 suspects were tried in military courts since the May 22 coup last year, including 144 political cases.