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Thailand: Update– Trial of human rights defender Ms Jittra Kotchadej, Ms Boonrod Paiwong, and Mr Soonthorn Boonyord adjourned until May 2013
The trial of human rights defenders and trade union leaders Ms Jittra Kotchadej, Ms Boonrod Paiwong and Mr Soonthorn Boonyord has been adjourned until May 2013.
The three human rights defenders are charged under Sections 215 and 216 of the Criminal Code for leading a peaceful assembly on 27 August 2009 demanding that the government take action to assist 2,000 workers dismissed by Triumph International factories. They could be imprisoned, if found guilty, for a maximum of five years and/or each be fined up to 10,000 Thai Baht (€252).
The human rights defenders were present for the hearings of the witnesses for the prosecution at the Criminal Court on 23 – 24 and 28 – 30 August 2012. However, these hearings took longer than expected, occupying the time which had been allocated for the witnesses for the defence. On 30 August, the presiding judge decided to adjourn the trial, scheduling the hearing of the defence witnesses for May 2013.
The hearings were observed by around twenty people from Thai labour and human rights organisations, a representative of Front Line Defenders, as well as representatives from the EU Delegation to Thailand.
Front Line Defenders is concerned by this lengthy delay, as it means that these charges will remain pending against Jittra Kotchadej, Boonrod Paiwong and Soonthorn Boonyord, as has been the case since January 2011. Front Line Defenders reiterates its call on the Thai authorities to immediately drop all charges against the aforementioned human rights defenders, as it is believed that they are directly related to their work in the defence of human rights.
For further information on this case, please see the Front Line Defenders urgent appeal, dated 7 December 2011: Human rights defenders Jittra Kotchadej, Boonrod Paiwong, and Soonthorn Boonyord to appear in pre-trial hearing on 23 December, and subsequent update, dated 7 August 2012: Trial of trade union leaders Ms Jittra Kotchadej, Ms Boonrod Paiwong, and Mr Soonthorn Boonyord to take place from 23 to 30 August 2012.