The Criminal Court will decide on Monday whether to grant red-shirt leader Arisman Pongruangrong bail following yesterday’s hearing of his plea in which he argued that he was on the run because he feared for his life and not to evade the law.
“I have never intended to elude the law but was forced to flee in order to cheat death,” Arisman said in his testimony seeking temporary release.
He said his life was in imminent danger in connection with last year’s political disturbances, prompting him to flee instead of surrendering to face terrorism charges at the end of the May 19, 2010, red-shirt rallies at the Ratchaprasong intersection.
Outlining how his life was at risk, he claimed that on April 12, 2010, a team of plainclothesmen abducted him and took him on a helicopter flight in order to coerce him to sign a statement acknowledging the char-ges, without the presence of a lawyer.
He went on to state that he was a target for abduction involving intelligence operatives. In one incident in Chiang Rai, he was intimidated by armed men.
Before the dispersal of the Ratchaprasong rallies, a team of policemen stormed into SC Park Hotel in an attempt to arrest him, he said. He said he received tip-offs that he was one of three targets for assassination. The other two were Pheu Thai MP Jatuporn Promphan and slain officer Maj-General Khattiya “Seh Daeng” Sawasdipol.
He argued that his involvement in disrupting the Asean Summit in Pattaya in 2009 was the cause of his safety risk.
He said the Pattaya Provincial Court had granted him bail pending a trial on the incident. He insisted Asean leaders called off the meeting of their own accord and claimed he did not storm the meeting venue as alleged. He said he was at a separate venue at a Pattaya hotel, intending to question the legitimacy of the Democrat-led government.
He told the court that he saw himself as a peace-loving and law-abiding citizen. He pledged to clear his name through the judicial process.
He also vowed to stop all political activities if granted bail.
The defence has posted Bt4 million cash as surety. Arisman’s wife Rapeepan invoked her MP status as guarantee for his compliance with any bail conditions.
The temporary release, if approved, would apply to three cases involving Arisman. The major case is related to terrorism, while two others pertain to libel against then prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and senior police officer Maj Gen Amnuay Nimmano.