Hong Kong pho­tog­ra­pher faces Thai jail time for wear­ing bullet-proof vest

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

A Hong Kong pho­tog­ra­pher may face five years in jail af­ter he was de­tained for car­ry­ing a bul­let­proof vest and hel­met while cov­er­ing the af­ter­math of last week’s deadly shrine bomb­ing, po­lice said Mon­day.

An­thony Kwan Hok-chun, who works for the Hong Kong-based Ini­tium media group, was held by po­lice af­ter try­ing to de­part Su­varn­ab­humi air­port on Sun­day.

“We took this case, he will be charged with the nor­mal process,” Po­lice Col. Santi Wan­narak, a se­nior of­fi­cer at the air­port, told AFP adding that Kwan could face a mil­i­tary trial.

The pho­tog­ra­pher’s lawyer, Sirikarn Charoen­siri, said the pre­lim­i­nary hear­ings were held at a civil­ian court in Sa­mut Prakhan province, where her client was charged with breach­ing Thai­land’s Arms Con­trol Act.

“Hav­ing a bullet-proof vest in pos­ses­sion with­out per­mis­sion is sub­ject to five years in jail and/or fine of no more than 50,000 baht (US$1,400),” she wrote in a text to AFP.

He was later granted bail, she added.

Since seiz­ing power in a coup last year, Thai­land’s junta have ramped up the use of mil­i­tary courts, par­tic­u­larly for any crimes that are deemed na­tional se­cu­rity cases.

Ba­sic per­sonal pro­tec­tion equip­ment com­monly used by media around the world such as gas masks, bal­lis­tic vests and hel­mets are clas­si­fied as weapons un­der Thai­land’s Arms Con­trol Act and must be li­censed.

But at­tempts by media groups over the years to seek per­mis­sion from author­i­ties to carry such items have fallen on deaf ears de­spite the coun­try’s long history of deadly street protests and a fes­ter­ing Mus­lim in­sur­gency in the deep south.

Un­til now, the ban on civil­ians and jour­nal­ists car­ry­ing un­li­censed equip­ment has largely been ig­nored.

In­ter­na­tional media have flocked to Thai­land fol­low­ing the Aug. 17 shrine bomb­ing which killed 20 peo­ple, mostly Asian tourists, in the heart of one of Bangkok’s busiest shop­ping dis­tricts. Scores more were wounded.

AP

Hong Kong pho­to­jour­nal­ist Hok Chun An­thony Kwan speaks on the phone af­ter leav­ing Sa­mut Prakan pro­vin­cial court af­ter he was re­leased on bail Mon­day, Aug. 24, fol­low­ing his ar­rest Sun­day at Su­varn­ab­humi Air­port in Bangkok, Thai­land, for car­ry­ing body ar­mor and a hel­met onto a flight bound for Hong Kong.

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