Thai military court orders release of student constitution protesters
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Thai military court orders release of student constitution protesters

SEVEN student protesters who were arrested last month for distributing leaflets urging people to vote against a proposed new constitution in a referendum next month were due to walk free this morning after a military court ordered police to release them.

An observer for the legal aid group iLaw, Yingcheep Atchanont, said the Bangkok Military Court ordered their release as police had already completed their investigation of the June 23 protest.

Six protesters had already been released on bail, while the other seven were detained after they refused to recognize the charges. Police at Bang Sao Thong Police Station wanted to detain the seven for a second 12-day period, but the court freed the students after a counter-petition by their lawyers.

They could still face several charges pending prosecutors’ acceptance of the case.

SEE ALSO: What the junta’s proposed constitution means for Thailand’s future

“Although this is not a victory for us, it shows that there are still ways to fight the state’s habit of putting people in jail on unreasonable grounds,” defense lawyer Krisadang Nutcharus said after the ruling was made, as quoted by Khaosod English.

The seven were to be released Wednesday morning.

Protesting outside the court Tuesday, Amnesty International Thailand called for charges against all 13 students to be dropped.

Thai people will vote in August 7’s referendum on a constitution drafted under the military government that took power in a May 2014 coup.

Critics say the draft is undemocratic, but are restrained from campaigning against it by very restrictive laws that could send them to prison for up to 10 years.

More than two years after Prayuth Chan-ocha’s military junta seized power, there is still no clear roadmap for a return to democracy. Elections have already been pushed back a number of times, and will now take place in 2017 at the earliest.

Additional reporting by Associated Press