Thursday, December 8, 2011

Firebrand Arisman denied bail

The Criminal Court has denied a request for the release on bail of red shirt leader Arisman Pongruangrong after he surrendered to authorities yesterday following 18 months on the run.
United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship core member Arisman Pongruangrong waves to supporters after surrendering to the Department of Special Investigation to fight charges of terrorism. TAWATCHAI KEMGUMNERD
The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) core member surrendered to officers of the Department of Special Investigation, saying he would fight terrorism charges brought against him.
The DSI handed him over to special cases prosecutors who then filed a case with the Criminal Court.
The prosecutors took Mr Arisman to the court and charged him with instigating an insurrection against the Abhisit Vejjajiva government.
They accused him of intimidating Mr Abhisit into dissolving the House and calling an election, and of leading red shirt demonstrators to lay siege to several places such as the Election Commission and Parliament as well as storming Chulalongkorn Hospital.
During the unrest, M79 grenades were fired at several government buildings, including the Defence Ministry, the Public Health Ministry and the Internal Security Operations Command, prosecutors said. Mr Arisman has denied all charges.
Prosecutors raised no objection to Mr Arisman being released on bail on the grounds that he surrendered voluntarily.
Wasuthep Srisoda, Mr Arisman's lawyer, applied for bail, offering 1.2 million baht as a cash surety. However, the court denied bail, reasoning the terrorism charges against Mr Arisman carry a high penalty and he had been on the run for a long time before he turned himself in.
Mr Arisman is also wanted in many other cases and could flee again or try to meddle with evidence if he was released on bail, the court said.
Mr Wasuthep said he would lodge an appeal today and would raise the bail surety being offered to 2 million baht.
Leaving the courtroom, Mr Arisman was taken to the Bangkok Remand Prison for detention. Earlier in the morning, Mr Arisman said during a radio interview that the government should reinstate the 1997 constitution.
The former pop singer admitted to having fled the country after the UDD ended its protest on May 19 last year and to living in Cambodia.
Mr Arisman said he did not surrender earlier because he had no confidence in the judicial process and also feared he would be hunted down or kidnapped. He claimed he had narrowly escaped arrest many times.
He had decided to surrender because he now had new confidence in the justice process and believed he would be safe.
He said the UDD had achieved 50% of its goals and it was now up to the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to fulfil the other half.
He also said he will lodge a petition with the Constitution Court to rule if the charges brought against him were too severe.
Democrat Party MP for Songkhla Sirichok Sopha said yesterday Mr Arisman was also required to report to the Songkhla Court under a warrant issued in a defamation case.
He said he filed a defamation suit after Mr Arisman accused him on the UDD stage of interfering in the transfer of police last year.
The court issued a warrant for Mr Arisman's arrest.
Mr Sirichok said he had sent a letter to the DSI and to Metropolitan Police Bureau chief Vinai Thongsong asking that they also ensure Mr Arisman report to the Songkhla Court.
Pheu Thai list MP and UDD co-leader Korkaew Pikulthong yesterday said red shirt supporters were dismayed to learn that Mr Arisman had been denied bail and would be held in detention.
However, Mr Korkaew said the bail denial would not lead to any violent protest. He said the UDD would not pressure the court into granting bail to Mr Arisman.
He urged all red shirt supporters to be patient and avoid taking to the streets in protest at Mr Arisman's bail denial.
Mr Korkaew said Mr Arisman should not be held in detention if national reconciliation was to be achieved.