BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai police carried one of the country’s most high profile protest leaders apparently unconscious from a van on Friday, as he and two others were re-arrested just as they reached the limit for their detention.
Panupong “Mike Rayong” Jadnok, 24, Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, 22 and Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, 22, were all detained during a crackdown ordered on Oct. 15 to try to end months of protests against the government and calling for reforms of the monarchy.
Video images showed Panupong slumped and being carried from a police van that had brought him from Bangkok Remand Prison to the Pracha Chuen police station before being taken away in an ambulance.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said Panupong was not in danger but would be kept in hospital overnight. The group said it believed he passed out after being put in a chokehold in the van. Police were not immediately available for comment.
An officer had earlier said he had orders to take them from prison to the police station. A lawyer for the three said they were being taken away to be charged again, arguing that it was unlawful to do so because they had already pleaded not guilty to the same charges.
In chaotic scenes outside the police station, Parit - who stripped off his shirt - and Panusaya gave an impromptu address to scores of supporters who had gathered there. They challenged the legality of their re-arrest and pledged to keep protesting peacefully.
“No matter what happens the movement will have to continue. We don’t want violence,” Panusaya said.
They have denied all charges against them.
The three have been among the most vocal in calling for curbs on the power of King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s monarchy during protests that began in mid-July. They have been charged with multiple offences from sedition to breaking emergency laws meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Scores of protesters, including several protest leaders, were arrested under emergency measures that were dropped a week ago after they backfired by drawing much bigger protests.
Additional reporting by Chayut Setboonsaarng; Writing by Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Jon Boyle