By Thai Newsroom Reporters
JUSTICE MINISTER SOMSAK Thepsuthin today (Feb.1) pledged to take steps to have bail granted by court for political detainees, particularly a couple of young woman activists still on a severe hunger strike, in bid to help defuse a looming crisis.
Somsak made his comment in response to the life-and-death situation in which Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanond and Orawan “Bam” Pupong have still refused to drink water or eat food provided in prison or at Thammasat hospital since January 18 and are reportedly being in critical condition due to their sustained hunger strike.
Tantawan and Orawan have been resolutely protesting against the sustained detainment of 21 political activists including themselves on lese majeste and sedition charges whilst bail has been repeatedly denied and no court verdict has been delivered yet.
Somsak who yesterday visited the hunger strikers at the hospital vowed to take his part in averting sort of a political crisis and to see to it that bail will be finally granted by court for the political detainees, most of whom being adolescents, whilst those who may not be given bail could probably be held in house arrest in lieu of jail.
According to the justice minister, EM bracelets might no longer be used with such a type of detainee after they have been released under bail or probably put in house arrest.
Somsak also confirmed that the authorities will consider amending laws and regulations pertaining to the judicial process applicable to lese majeste and sedition cases but stopped short of elaborating.
In addition to persistent calls of Tantawan and Bam and others endorsed by many university lecturers, university students and human rights activists for the unconditional freedom for all political detainees, the protesters have pushed for reform of the established judicial process and abolition of the lese majeste law, better known as Section 112 of the Criminal Code which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
Top: Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin, right, and a drawing of hunger strikers Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanond and Orawan “Bam” Pupong, left.
Front Page: Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin visiting the hunger strikers at the hospital. Both photos: Thai Rath