Thai court approves bail for protest leaders jailed over royal insult 

FILE PHOTO: Police on horses wearing protective face masks pass outside the Grand Palace as Bangkok authorities shut down several entertainment and recreation places to fight the surge of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, in Bangkok, Thailand April 26, 2021. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

June 1, 2021

BANGKOK (Reuters) - A court in Thailand on Tuesday approved bail for three leaders of anti-government protests who had been remanded on charges of insulting the country's powerful king, their lawyer said.

Human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa, Panupong "Mike" Jadnok and Chukiat "Justin" Saengwong, were given bail on conditions that include they refrain from defaming the monarchy and inciting unrest, said lawyer Krisadang Nutcharat.

The three are currently being treated in hospital after testing positive for COVID-19, part of a cluster of infections that has struck the country's jails.

Arnon and Panupong would be discharged later on Tuesday, Krisadang said, but would need to a COVID-19 test and to self-isolate at home for 14 days, in line with health guidelines.

Chukiat would remain in custody as he still had other detention orders from different legal cases, Krisadang said.

The three activists, alongside several others, are being prosecuted for lese majeste or insulting the monarchy, a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison for each offence.

They have denied the charges.

Arnon was remanded in early February, followed by Panupong and Chukiat a month later. Chukiat is now the last of the protest leader yet to be released from detention.

The student-led demonstrations last year made once-unthinkable calls for reforming Thailand's monarchy, considered by many conservatives to be sacrosanct.

They also demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former army chief and staunch royalist who first came to power in a 2014 coup.

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