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Police in Pathum Wan reported to be preparing to rearrest Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanakul after she was admitted to the Praram 9 Hospital early on Saturday morning after an attempt to rearrest her by police was thwarted by protest supporters and lawyers acting on her behalf. On Saturday, a court in Ayutthaya ruled that the warrants being used by police were not valid but did point out that new warrants can be sought from the courts or warrants could be executed on new, separate charges. 

Police officers in Bangkok are reportedly scrambling to rearrest a number of protest leaders currently being held at the Praram 9 Hospital in Huai Khwang after a dramatic night when protest movement supporters on motorbikes gave chase to a police vehicle and key protest leader, Panupong Jadnok, blacked out after both he and his colleague Parit Chiwarak or ‘Penguin’ resisted an attempted arrest by plainclothes police officers which a court, on Saturday, later shut down as illegal.

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A police officer is seen carrying the key protest leader Panupong Jadnok into Pracha Chuen police station on Friday night from where he was later taken to hospital. Doctors reported on Saturday that he was conscious and had been treated for a lack of oxygen while two other protest co-leaders, Mr Parit Chiwarak or ‘Penguin’ and Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanakul, were also admitted to the same hospital.

Following a dramatic Friday night in which protesters chased after a police car containing rearrested protest leaders ending with the hospitalisation of the leaders at nearly 5 am on Saturday morning, a Thai court in Ayutthaya has stepped in to renounce any rights by police to further detain the trio after officers claimed that they were executing outstanding warrants in respect of other charges.

However, while the court ruled that the trio, Panupong Jadnok or ‘Mike Rayong’, Parit Chiwarak or ‘Penguin’ and Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanakul could not be rearrested on charges which police have already processed and investigated, it also made it clear that the protest ringleaders could be arrested on warrants obtained relating to new charges.

Protest leaders expected to be treated for two or three days in hospital before they are discharged

The three protest leaders are expected to remain in hospital in order to be treated by doctors, over the next two to three days, following their experience on Friday night.

It is now being reported that police officers from the Pathum Wan area of Bangkok are moving to arrest at least one of the activists, thought to be Ms Panusaya. 

In the meantime, the protesters, who were admitted to hospital, are being guarded by a contingent of police officers at the Praram 9 Hospital in the Huai Khwang area of Bangkok.

Drama began at 8 pm on Friday evening

The drama began on Friday evening when the four key leaders of the pro-democracy student-led protests who were ordered, earlier in the day by the Criminal Court to be released, were due to emerge from the Bangkok Remand Prison and the adjacent Central Women’s Correctional Institution.

At around 8 pm, one of the four protest leaders Patiwat ‘Bank’ Saraiyam, as he walked towards the acclaim of gathered supporters, appeared distressed and warned that Mr Parit or the ‘Penguin’ and Mr Panupong or ‘Mike Rayong’ were being rearrested.

Police car and prison van arrived at Bangkok Remand Prison as the four prisoners were to be released

This coincided with a glimpse of a metropolitan police car and a prison vehicle seen entering the prison.

It was then reported that while lawyers were engaged with police arguing over the legality of the men being rearrested on already acknowledged charges, that plainclothes policemen had entered the prison and removed the two men by force taking them away in the police car.

This gave rise to a motorcycle chase as supporters of the two arrested men chased the police car through Bangkok as it headed to Pracha Chuen police station. 

At the station, Police Colonel Ittichet Wonghomhuan said that his officers were acting on arrest warrants for the three protest leaders from three provinces, Nonthaburi, Ayutthaya and Ubon Ratchathani.

Protest leaders feared they were being illegally detained by the plainclothes police officers

In the course of the chase given to police carrying the two men, it is reported that Mr Parit shouted at supporters as they caught up, that he and his colleague were being arrested illegally. 

It is also reported that attempts were made to break the glass windows of the car while it also crashed into a number of parked motorbikes and dragged one under its power for a distance of 200 metres.

This subsequently led to a police complaint being made by the owner of the motorcycle who is not politically active.

Men forced into the car by the neck 

At Pracha Chuen police station, a tense and dangerous standoff developed between the police and up to 50 supporters of the protest leaders who attempted to forcibly free them from the car. 

During the course of the attempted arrest at the prison and within the car followed by attempts to fend off the supporters of the protest leaders, it is reported that Mr Panupong suffered a blackout with a doctor later suggesting he may have been beaten but also testimony from Mr Parit that both men were forced into the car by being gripped by the neck.

At 10 pm on Friday, Mr Panupong was unconscious and in need of medical attention. He was initially transferred to Kasemrad Hospital and later on to Praram 9 hospital.

‘Penguin’ admits resisting arrest as the police were not wearing uniforms, suspected illegality

At the police station, Mr Parit took off his shirt and addressed the crowd. He explained that both he and Mr Panupong had physically resisted arrest as they were concerned about the nature of their removal from the prison since the men involved were not wearing uniforms.

He also said that he was certain that they were being detained in contravention of the law.

Ms Panusaya urged those involved with the protest movement to continue their activities and while acknowledging the increasingly frustrating actions of authorities, called for followers to exercise restraint and not to succumb to the temptation of resorting to violence.

All three leaders involved in rearrest operation transferred to Bangkok hospital by the early hours

By 4.50 am on Saturday morning, the three key protest leaders had all been admitted to Praram 9 Hospital. Doctors revealed that Mr Panupong had been suffering from a lack of oxygen. He is believed to have had a blackout during the vehicle ride from the prison to the police station.

His health was being monitored although medics, on Saturday, assured the public that he was conscious.

A former Pheu Thai Party MP and physician, Tossaporn Sereerak, said that he had examined Mr Panupong and had been on hand, on Friday night, to render first aid to him. 

He indicated that he thought Mr Panupong may have been beaten.

Mr Parit or ‘Penguin’ suffers from asthma

At around 4.00 am on Saturday, Mr Parit, who was exhausted after a night of chaos, as he suffers from asthma, had to be sent to Praram 9 Hospital.

Mr Parit or ‘Penguin’ was said to be suffering from exhaustion after a traumatic night.

He was reportedly being treated for a cut he received from flying glass and being monitored closely as he has an asthmatic condition.

At the same hospital, Ms Panusaya was reported to be on a saline drip and suffering from dehydration and lack of sleep after spending the last 16 days in prison.

Lawyers questioned the legality of police warrants

Thai lawyers with a group called Ilaw repeatedly pointed out on Friday and Saturday that the use of expired arrest warrants against the protest leaders by police on Friday was a breach of Section 68 of the Thai Criminal Code.

Police had indicated that they considered the warrants were enforceable since they had not been revoked but lawyers argued that the process of the cases concerned had already been executed. On that basis, they were therefore defunct.

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Further reading:

Protest leader tells Prayut his term as PM is over as thousands again take to the Bangkok streets against him

Strength of support for the monarchy being seen this week as political unrest deepens into standoff

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Top minister accuses protesters of imperiling economic recovery and the health of Thai people at this time

Large protest turnout in Bangkok on Wednesday pushed for the PM to go with a 3-day ultimatum

Prime Minister’s position has been weakened by protests as progressive leader says he must go to allow talks

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About the Author

Carla Boonkong is a magazine writer who writes extensively about woman’s issues in Thailand. One of her key subjects is the story of Thailand’s growing influence in the world and the role played by Thai women in the process. She is now a staff writer with Thai Examiner.com in Bangkok. Son Nguyen is an international writer and news commentator specialising in Thai news and current affairs. He commenced working with the Thai Examiner News Desk in May 2018.

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