Thai man jailed for 35 years for defaming royals on Facebook

 
Prosecutions have continued under Thailand’s new king Maha Vajiralongkorn, who took the throne in late 2016 after the death of his deeply revered father AFP/Lillian SUWANRUMPHA

BANGKOK: A Thai man was jailed for 35 years on Friday (Jun 9) for Facebook posts deemed insulting to the royal family, a watchdog said, in one of the harshest sentences handed down for a crime that insulates Thailand’s ultra-rich monarchy from criticism.

A Bangkok military court convicted the 34-year-old of ten counts of lese majeste for posting photos and videos of the royal family on a Facebook account that purported to belong to a different user.

Wichai, whose last name was withheld to protect his relatives from ostracisation, was accused of using the account to slander a former friend, said iLaw, a group that tracks royal defamation cases.

“The court punished him with seven years per count. Altogether he was given 70 years, but it was reduced in half because he confessed,” said Yingcheep Atchanont from iLaw.

Lese majeste cases are routinely shrouded in secrecy, with media forced to heavily self-censor the details to avoid violating the broadly-interpreted law.

Reporters were barred from entering the military court where Wichai’s verdict was read.

Later on Friday a criminal court sentenced another lese majeste suspect to 2.5 years in jail for uploading an audio clip from an underground political radio show that was deemed insulting to the monarchy.

Use of the draconian law has surged under a royalist junta that grabbed power in 2014, with more than 100 people charged since the coup.

Prosecutions have continued under Thailand’s new king Maha Vajiralongkorn, who took the throne in late 2016 after the death of his deeply revered father.

Observers have been closely watching how the new king approaches the controversial law, which effectively blocks scrutiny of Thailand’s opaque and powerful monarchy.

According to iLaw, Wichai initially denied the charges but later confessed after waiting for more than a year in jail for the court proceedings to begin.

Lese majeste suspects are rarely acquitted or granted bail.

The United Nations’ rights body has warned that Thailand’s widespread use of the law “may constitute crimes against humanity”.

Source: AFP

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This entry was posted in Bloggers, Freedom of expression - Quyền tư do ngôn luận, Human rights - Nhân quyền, Thailand - Thái Lan and tagged , , , by Trần Đình Hoành. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage dotchuoinon.com on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development (cvdvn.net). I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

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