Three Thai pro-democracy leaders were in hospital yesterday after chaotic scenes outside a Bangkok police station overnight as officers tried to slap them with further criminal charges.
A court on Friday ordered the release of Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul and Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, who have been in custody since the middle of last month on sedition charges.
However, police sought to question them over outstanding arrest warrants.
For months, protesters have staged almost daily rallies demanding reforms to the country’s monarchy and for Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha — a former military chief who staged a 2014 coup — to resign.
The student-led demonstrations are also calling for a rewrite of the military-scripted constitution and an end to alleged government harassment of political opponents.
Panupong seemed to be unconscious as he was loaded into an ambulance outside the police station on Friday night after being transported in a police van from jail.
Local media said that he fainted after being subjected to a “chokehold” by plainclothes police.
Parit and Panusaya were allowed to mingle with about 300 supporters outside the station for several hours until police from Ayutthaya, 80km north of Bangkok arrived to question them early yesterday morning.
Tosaporn Sererak, a doctor and former lawmaker, was with the pair as they were loaded into an ambulance around 4:30am.
“After questioning, both Rung and Penguin were feeling weak and have been sent to hospital where they are expected to stay for two-three days,” Tosaporn said, adding that Parit has shards of broken glass in his skin from a scuffle in a police van.
Meanwhile, some students posed with cardboard cutouts of well-known critics of the monarchy as Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn was to present degrees at Thammasat University in Bangkok yesterday.
Student protesters set up life-size cardboard cutouts of historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul and former diplomat Pavin Chachavalpongpun, widely followed critics of the monarchy who live in self-exile.
“I chose to take a picture with Somsak because I respect him and I don’t think he deserves whatever happened to him for speaking the truth and bravely criticising the monarchy openly,” said one 23-year-old student, who gave his name as Marut.
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