Chaturon jailed pending court-martial

Soldiers did not take Chaturon Chaisaeng, a key figure of the Pheu Thai Party and former education minister, to his court-martial in Bangkok on Wednesday as expected. He was instead detained pending his trial.

Above: Chaturon Chaisaeng, arrested at his press conference in Bangkok on Tuesday evening. (Photo by Kosol Nakachol)

A large number of journalists and members of Mr Chaturon's family waited outside the Judge Advocate General's Department at the Defence Ministry on Ratchadamnoen Road, Bangkok, on Wednesday morning.

They expected soldiers to escort him there to appear before the military court.

Soldiers arrested Mr Chaturon after he held a press conference, opposing the May 22 coup and saying he would neither surrender nor flee, at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand in Bangkok on Tuesday evening.

Col Kittiyut Kittiyutyothin, the general affairs director of the Judge Advocate General's Department, said the soldiers who detained Mr Chaturon informed him that they cancelled their plan to bring Mr Chaturon to the court on Wednesday.

Col Kittiyut said they did not say when they would bring Mr Chaturon to the military court, but they could legally detain him for an initial seven days under martial law, Col Kittiyut said.

Vice Adm Krissada Charoenpanit, chief of the Military Judicial Office, said that at his court-martial Mr Chaturon would have a lawyer, and if he confessed a ruling could be given right away.

If he denied the charge, Mr Chaturon would have to present witnesses to appear at hearings in accordance with the Criminal Procedures Code, and the duration of the process could not be exactly predicted.

Vice Adm Krissada said the process would be finished as soon as possible.

During the trial, the military could detain Mr Chaturon for 12 days at a time, and his detention could be as long as 84 days. Mr Chaturon would be held at a facility run by the Department of Corrections, he said.

Mr Chaturon defied a summons to report to the coup-makers' National Council for Peace and Order, an  offence for which he is liable to two-years in prison and/or a fine of 40,000 baht if convicted.

It was reported that Mr Chaturon's appearance in court on Wednesday had been delayed because the soldiers holding him had not completed all the needed documents in time.

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