Sentence first – verdict afterwards

25 February 2012
Both Amphon and Joe Gordon have been denied bail… again.

It is not only the Thai government where the sentence is delivered before the verdict, of course. The USA, the “land of the free” where more people are imprisoned per capita than anywhere else on earth, also imprisons innocent people, sentencing them to prison years before trial let alon conviction…

Bradley Manning at his arraignment at Fort Meade

Who is really on trial – Bradley Manning or AMerica itself?

After almost two years of delay, PFC Manning will likely be tried this summer before a US Army court-martial. While the world watches how this case unfolds, I think it will become clear that our nation is on trial too. There are two charges pending :

(1) through its gross overreaction to real security threats, the US has forsaken any semblance of democracy, and

(2) The US government does not respect due process of law.

If we are a democracy, which requires informed citizens, why has critical information about the wars in the Middle East been kept from us? It should not have been necessary for a private first class in the Army to allegedly leak this information in the first place. If anything, we as a nation should be thanking PFC Manning for performing this important national service.

And are we really a nation that protects due process of law, when PFC Manning’s treatment has included:

Solitary confinement for 10 of the 19 months he has been in confinement thus far,

Cruel and humiliating treatment during much of his confinement, including periods when his clothing was taken away by prison officials,

A preliminary (Article 32) hearing that was conducted by a biased hearing officer, who was chosen by the same officials that chose to bring charges against PFC Manning,

The denial of almost all of his request witnesses at that same Article 32 hearing, and finally

A trial whose outcome will be determined by a jury panel composed solely of high ranking members, who have been handpicked by the same officials who are PFC Manning’s accusers.

It is not too late for the US to undo this injustice, by dismissing all charges against Bradley Manning.

I urge all people of conscience to join the campaign to free Bradley Manning.

Remand imprisonment, or the detention of a suspect is the process of keeping a person who has been arrested in a police-cell, remand prison, or other detention centre before trial or sentencing.

  • One criticism of pretrial detention is that eventual acquittal can be a somewhat hollow victory, in that there is no way to restore to the defendant the days already spent in jail.
  • Pretrial detention alters a defendant’s incentives by making his best-case scenario not zero days in jail, but the length of time served pretrial.
  • Therefore, he may be more likely to plead guilty if his chances of acquittal are low,
  • or if his expected sentence if he pleads guilty is less than the amount of jail time he would serve pretrial.
  • Pretrial detainees may also find it harder to mount an effective defense.

THAILAND: Criminalization of free speech ahead of election

Two aspects stand out.

The first is the use of the monarchy as an avenue through which to charge, prosecute and detain persons who have done no more than exercise a basic right to speak about matters of public and national importance, which should not be off limits to anyone. This problematic use of the law in Thailand, and especially the lese majesty law, has been steadily on the rise since the 2006 coup.

The second is the increasing tendency to criminalize speech in Thailand by targeting persons responsible only for the assisting in some small way in the distribution or redistribution of other persons’ opinions: even something as trivial as a website link or a few burned CDs is seemingly enough to land an accused in a tight spot, both in a criminal case and in prison.

To those two I would add a third : the routine and habitual use of remand imprisonment with, in addition to its denial of human rights, all of its purposeful ‘side-effects’ enumerated above.

Remand imprisonment should be Public Enemy Number One, as it is used in all sorts of cases as well as in those claimed to involve lèse majesté.

The King Never Smiles

A Thai with American citizenship arrested for lèse majesté and denied bail

On 26 May, the DSI brought Gordon, his Thai name withheld at his request, to the Criminal Court to ask for him to be remanded.

The DSI considers that this is an important case, as it believes that he is ‘Nai Sin Sae Jew (นายสิน แซ่จิ้ว)’, the owner of a blog, which was created in the USA in 2007 and has a link to download the banned book The King Never Smiles.

Gordon denied all charges and contacted the US Embassy.

His friends brought a land title deed worth over 1.7 million baht to place as a bail guarantee, but, in response to objections from the DSI, the court denied bail, citing that this was a serious case concerning national security, and that the accused might tamper with evidence.

He was then sent to Bangkok Remand Prison.

Will the USA play ‘Amnesty International’? Barack Obama has already announced his readiness to assassinate Americans if he feels they are a threat to his version of ‘national security’, will he show solidarity with the Thai military government in some perverse attempt to shore up his own case?

Sentence first – verdict afterwards… again, and again, and again. Remand sentencing is the 800 pound gorilla of systemic human rights violation sitting in every Thai courtroom.

Joe has been in prison (8 Jan 2012) since 24 May 2011… 229 days so far… with zero help from the United States Government, complicit in the Thai government’s crime.

Free Joe Gordon!

12 October

Sadly, due to the utter lack of support of the United States Government (collusion with the Royal Thai Government, really, in gratitude for the Royal Thai Government’s acquiescence to US CIA torturers applying their irons to ‘suspected militants’ here in Thailand), Joe Gordon, innocent prima facie of the absurd ‘crimes’ with which he was charged, was reduced to entering a plea of guilty in the hope of receiving a reduced jail sentence followed by a pardon in return for ‘vindicating’ the Royal Thai Government’s charges and his subsequent persecution at their, and the United States Government’s hands. He’s served 229 days in prison already… sentenced first, the verdict to follow… the verdict did follow, two and one-half years.

The authorities use Criminal Code section 112 as a tool to intimidate people to make them fearful to speak out

The authorities use Criminal Code section 112 as a tool to intimidate people to make them fearful to speak out

11 May 2011 – Army goes ‘beyond call of duty’

What’s your message for the people?
The public should pay attention to other lese majeste cases such as the one involving Somyot Prueksakasemsuk and whether the accused will receive basic human rights, such as being granted bail during the initial process or not. These people are political prisoners.

1 May 2011 – Somyos: without freedom, humans are not human

Somyos in prison - sentence first, verdict after

Somyos in prison - sentence first, verdict after

On 1 May, Somyos Prueksakasemsuk was remanded at the Crime Suppression Division. He was visited by red shirts and former Triumph workers.

On 2 May, the Criminal Court denied his bail request, citing that his alleged offences affected national security and the revered monarchy, which carried severe punishment, and that he might flee, as he had been arrested while trying to go abroad.

Somyos has been in prison (8 Jan 2012) since 1 May 2011… 252 days so far…

Somyos and lèse majesté nastiness

On Monday 25 July, following the full 84-day incarceration permitted under the law, activist red shirt Somyos Pruksakasemsuk was taken from the Bangkok Remand Prison to be read the lese majeste charge that will now be taken through the courts…

Somyos reportedly called for international pressure to be brought on the government to allow him bail to adequately fight his case.

As with many lese majeste cases, it is clear that Somyos’ refusal to plead guilty is going to be used to delay his case and to keep him incarcerated as long as possible. This form of mental and physical torture is meant to grind down resistance and ensure either a guilty plea or a very long trial and an even longer imprisonment. It may be another 8-12 months before Somyos has a day in court. His lawyer will lodge yet another bail application soon. Of course, the chances of success are very slim.

Meanwhile, at the Bangkok Remand Prison, Joe Gordon has had bail refused again and Surachai Sae Dan (Surachai Danwattananusorn) has been taken off for medical attention for a persistent cough that is debilitating. Little sympathy is shown by the powers that be for any of those charged with lese majeste.

There is no justice when lese majeste is involved.

Free Somyos Prueksakasemsuk!

1 April 2011 – Amphon Tangnoppakul, 61, has been detained without bail, again, after being indicted by the public prosecutor for lèse majesté.

Amphon Tangnoppakul, 61, has been detained without bail, again, after being indicted by the public prosecutor for lèse majesté.

Amphon Tangnoppakul, 61, has been detained without bail, again, after being indicted by the public prosecutor for lèse majesté.

Grounds given for denying bail again… Amphon might escape. They hope he will die in prison before his ‘trial’… but rely on him pleading guilty as charged.

Amphon had been imprisoned since 18 Jan 2011 … 477 days – 309 days prior to his ‘conviction’, and 168 days after – up until 8 May 2012 when he died. In the most outrageous burlesque of justice to date Amphon had been convicted of being unable to prove his innocence and sentenced to 20 years’ hard time. His sentence has become the life sentence that many had forecast it would be.

Free Amphon Tangnoppakul! we said. Utterly without benefit or effect for poor Amphon.

Amphon is ‘free’ now, as we all will be free of the ‘bonds’ of life at our deaths. Amphon was murdered by the Royalist Thai ‘elite’.

Darunee Charnchoengsilpakul - her illegal 'secret trial' overturned remains in prison

Darunee Charnchoengsilpakul - her illegal 'secret trial' overturned - remains in prison

Her trial never passed the laugh test! Held in secret after the ‘judge’ ruled ‘on appeal’ that his own arbitrary declaration of secrecy was constitutional, it is certainly no laughing matter for Darunee.

Darunee has been in prison (8 January 2012) since 22 Jul 2008… 1265 days so far… 3 years 5 months and 17 days. Her third anniversary as a political prisoner was on Friday 22 July 2011. Daranee has since been re-sentenced to 15 years in prison after her first trial was ruled a mistrial. Daranee is appealing.

Daranee needs money ti live in prison, We can help. Deposit a few baht one of her brother’s accounts :

Kittichai Charnchoengsilapakul
Bank of Ayudhya, Phunphon branch, 297-1-25805-5
Bangkok Bank, Phuket branch, 264-4-40298-0
Siam Commercial Bank, Phuket branch, 537-4-06116-0

Are Secret Trials Compatible with Liberties and Rights? Nowhere in the real world, but here in Wonderland they are!

Free Darunee Charnchoengsilpakul!

The vile state of Thailand continues to eat its children.

‘Sentence first – verdict afterwards.‘

‘Sentence first – verdict afterwards.‘

‘Let the jury consider their verdict,’ the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.

‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first – verdict afterwards.‘

‘Stuff and nonsense!’ said Alice loudly. ‘The idea of having the sentence first!‘

‘Hold your tongue!’ said the Queen, turning purple.

‘I won’t!’ said Alice.

‘Off with her head!’ the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.

‘Who cares for you?’ said Alice, (she had grown to her full size by this time.)

‘You’re nothing but a pack of cards!‘

At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down upon her: she gave a little scream, half of fright and half of anger, and tried to beat them off, and found herself lying on the bank, with her head in the lap of her sister, who was gently brushing away some dead leaves that had fluttered down from the trees upon her face. ”

- Chapter 12, Alice’s Evidence, Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

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About jfl

A 66 year-old American male living in Chiangrai, Thailand
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6 Responses to Sentence first – verdict afterwards

  1. Hobby says:

    I reckon this guy should be in the oval office, not Obama:

    (although Obama speaks well too, and he’s probably heard this: )

      • jfl says:

        In fact I agree that the dark heart of Emanuel was and is always the dark heart of Obama… poor Cornel set himself up.

        The moral philosopher Cornel West, if Barack Obama’s ascent to power was a morality play, would be the voice of conscience. Rahm Emanuel, a cynical product of the Chicago political machine, would be Satan. Emanuel in the first scene of the play would dangle power, privilege, fame and money before Obama. West would warn Obama that the quality of a life is defined by its moral commitment, that his legacy will be determined by his willingness to defy the cruel assault by the corporate state and the financial elite against the poor and working men and women, and that justice must never be sacrificed on the altar of power.

        Perhaps there was never much of a struggle in Obama’s heart. Perhaps West only provided a moral veneer. Perhaps the dark heart of Emanuel was always the dark heart of Obama. Only Obama knows. But we know how the play ends. West is banished like honest Kent in “King Lear.” Emanuel and immoral mediocrities from Lawrence Summers to Timothy Geithner to Robert Gates – think of Goneril and Regan in the Shakespearean tragedy – take power. We lose. And Obama becomes an obedient servant of the corporate elite in exchange for the hollow trappings of authority.

  2. Hobby says:

    PS, sorry for being off topic (slightly)

  3. jfl says:

    I came upon that chat with Cornel West myself yesterday. I hadn’t seen him on TV in quite a while – gee, I wonder why not? I mean in addition to the fact that I don’t ever watch TV – and I was struck by his grey beard and by his primed, rapid fire delivery. He’s been driven as nuts as everyone else by Clinton/Bush/Obama and the opening decade of the 21st Century.

    The likelihood of brother Cornel being elected – of him running for – POTUS is zero, in my opinion. But he is among the – say, 100,000,000 Americans – who would make better Presidents than the last 3 that we’ve elected.

    It is not a president that is lacking, but the American people. Democracy requires participation by the demos… and we just don’t have it in America. There are some stirrings now that the consequences of American imperialism have become a bread-and-butter issue, as the corporate-plutocrat regime – having eaten the main course of American prosperity – now picks the bones of the Americans who still have living-wage jobs, in the public sector. Perhaps it’s not too little, too late.

    I couldn’t hear Khun Yosef reading the William Blum very well, so I put up the written words here.

    Cornel West, having abandoned a tenured position at Harvard for a tenured position at Princeton when Larry Summers arrived in Cambridge, made a hip-hop album… his academic (wannabe) ‘peers’ phreaked OUT!

    Thanks for the links.

  4. jfl says:

    Cornel West has made lots of ‘appearances’ on youtube, and in fact al Jazeera has made a cottage industry out of interviewing him.

    So you see there really is no excuse for maintaining a TV set.

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