The Bangkok Post reports on the new lese majeste court case that “began on Tuesday with three prosecution witnesses giving testimony against 41-year-old computer programmer Surapak Puchaisaeng, from Bung Kan province.” As we noted in a previous post, Surapak’s case carries the dubious distinction of being the first lese majeste arrest under the Yingluck Shinawatra administration, although investigations began under the Abhisit Vejjajiva government.
With friends and supporters showing up Surapak was said to be “in good spirits…”. The report of the case is of basic information regarding Surapak’s residence and activities provided by prosecution witnesses.
A witness who supervised the condominium where he rented a room said Surapak “had never done or expressed anything inappropriate to her knowledge, and sometimes the door to his room was open and people could see he was working on his computer, like a technician.” She added that on “his arrest Mr Surapak cooperated well with the police, who also confiscated his computer…”.
The interesting witness is teh one who apparently laid the lese majeste complaint with the police, “Chalermchai Mongkolkerdkij, 21, then a third-year student of the Chandrakasem University’s faculty of alternative medicine. He told the court that he has used a computer for 10 years and his Facebook username is “prasertpatpat”.
Chalermchai’s case against Surapak turns out to be a yellow-shirted witch hunt. He was “informed by a friend that a Facebook page” called “We Would …..The Land by the Coup” was posting stuff considered to “defame, insult and threaten the monarchy.” Chalermchai’s job then became monitoring the site for three months, seeking out the associate email with the account and then filing a complaint with police.To get information from the site he posed as a red shirt, using “the symbol and username ‘I Like Red’ to request friend status for the Facebook page.”
Remarkably, he “told the court he could not remember exactly what the defamatory messages said.” He also denied that “he belonged to any witch-hunting group.” Chalermchai claimed he acted alone but admitted he was a follower of the People’s Alliance for Democracy and stated that he was a “loyal subject of the monarchy.”
He claims to have gone after Surapak alone, even though he recognized many anti-monarchy web pages. Clearly, Surapak’s team would have every reason to think that Chalermchai is a PAD stooge. The Post report states:
At the court room, two people assisted and gave support to the witness. One of them said he was an academic and member of several groups protective of the monarchy. Members of liberal Intellectual groups and red-shirt sympathisers also showed up in solidarity with the defendant.
While we are not sure what “liberal” means in this context, we think the picture of this case of cyber-snitching is pretty clear.
The hearing will continue tomorrow.