Ampol Tangnopakul

Ampol Tangnopakul was arrested by Crime Suppression Division police on 3 August 2010 for allegedly sending SMS messages considered offensive and threatening to the monarchy. They were allegedly sent to the private secretary of then Prime Minister Abhisith Vejjajiva. Ampol was charged with lese majeste. He was detained at Bangkok Remand Prison for about two months before being granted bail.

Ampol was, at the time, a 60-year-old man who was arrested in Samut Prakan after police and officials of the Information and Communication Technology Ministry investigated and found that he had sent the offensive messages. Ampol denied the charges. He is alleged to have sent messages four times to Abhisit Vejjajiva’s personal secretary Somkiat Krongwattanasuk between 9-11 May, to other cabinet members, and also to yellow-shirt activist Tul Srisomwong. The case that proceeded in court was about the messages claimed to have been sent to Somkiat.

The authorities stated that Ampol was blacklisted as a hard-core member of the red shirts of Samut Prakan province by the Internal Security Operations Command. Ampol denied this.

Kept in prison after his court appearance on 18 January 2011, Ampol was detained without bail. Despite his poverty, after a day of consideration, the court dismissed a bail request, saying that the alleged crimes against the monarchy were severe and he might abscond.

Ampol had appeared in the Criminal Court to be “charged with violating Sections 14 (2) and (3) of the 2007 Computer Crimes Act, Section 112 of the Criminal Code (dealing with lèse majesté) and Decree 41 of the 1976 coup which changed the penalty for lèse majesté from a maximum of 7 years in prison to 3-15 years.”

By late January, Ampol had been denied bail three times and remained in jail.

On 21 March 2011, the Criminal Court again denied bail for Ampol. His case is scheduled for late September. He was detained without bail from 18 January 2011, and reportedly suffering from mouth cancer.

In late August 2011, his case was submitted to the U.N.’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention by the Freedom of Expression Documentation Center, iLaw in Bangkok, with a detailed report on his case.

Ampol’s trial began on 23 September 2011. He was convicted in late November 2011 and sentenced to 20 years in jail for the 4 text messages the court says that he sent. To simplify, the court was unable to prove that Ampol sent the messages but convicted him on the basis that he could not prove that he didn’t send them. The court’s  judgement (in Thai) is available as a PDF.

His lawyer’s appealed for bail during the time that the appeal case is being prepared and getting ready to be heard, and despite guarantees from 7 academics and 2 million in bail offered, the court rejected the application on 22 February 2012, unbelievably stating that it considered the poor, sick and old man a “flight risk.” Ampol’s lawyers appealed for bail eight times, and each appeal was refused.

As his appeal dragged on and on, by early April 2012, Ampol decided to withdraw it, plead guilty and seek a royal pardon, “citing his old age and health problems as the reason.”

He died on 8 May 2012, still waiting to see if there is any mercy for an old and sick man. The royal pardon never came. At the time of his sentence, PPT and others stated that Ampol had been effectively been given a death sentence. Sadly, that has proven correct.

An inquest was held into Ampol’s death in custody. In a final insult, the court determined that there was “there was insufficient evidence of negligence,” and ruled that he “died due to the spread of liver cancer.” The judge concluded that “his treatment was in line with other inmates.” That seems to suggest that health care in prisons is abysmal.

This verdict flew in the face of evidence from fellow prisoners who “told the court that Ampon had not received enough food or health care while he was in jail…”. It also flew in the face of evidence by a doctor and prison nurse.

His family’s lawyer, Poonsuk Poonsukcharoen, stated:

“He was bedridden for three days before he died. If the health care was up to standard, he should have been diagnosed earlier…”.

Media reports on Ampol’s case:

Bangkok Post, 31 October 2013: “Prison off hook over ‘Uncle SMS’ death

The West Australian, 30 October 2013: “Thai court rules out negligence in lese majeste inmate death

Khaosod, 9 August 2013: “‘Uncle SMS’ Abandoned By Prison Staff Prior To His Death”

Khaosod, 10 May 2013: “Uncle SMS, Lese Majeste Convict Dead In Prison 1 Year Ago, Remembered

Prachatai, 29 April 2013: “Thanthawut testifies in court inquest into Amphon’s death

Bangkok Post, 18 December 2012: “Inquest starts into Ampon prison death

Bangkok Post, 18 September 2012: “Rich get bail, while poor go to jail

Bangkok Post, 27 August 2012: “Thousands mourn ‘Uncle SMS’ at cremation

Prachatai, 25 August 2012: “German expert’s statement on SMS sender identification in Amphon’s case

Prachatai, 24 August 2012: “Former Judge’s Views on the Case of Ah Kong

Bangkok Post, 7 August 2012: “Religious rite held for Uncle SMS

Bangkok Post, 11 May 2012: “Ampon team of lawyers say their best not good enough

PPT posted a page of international media links on Ampol’s death.

Bangkok Post, 9 May 2012: “Sadness, outrage after Uncle SMS dies

The Nation, 9 May 2012: “Death of ‘Uncle SMS’ puts govt in focus

Prachatai, 8 May 2012: “Lawyer: ‘If Ampon was granted bail, he would not have died’.”

Prachatai, 3 April 2012: “Amphon withdraws appeal and will seek royal pardon

Prachatai, 24 February 2012: “Appeals Court denies bail for Amphon

Bangkok Post, 22 January 2012: “Lawyer plans appeal in continued fight to release ‘Uncle SMS’ from prison

Bangkok Post, 30 November 2011: “Ampon case spurs action

A list of media reports on Ampol’s sentencing is here.

Bangkok Post, 27 November 2011: “The saga of Uncle SMS

Asian Human Rights Commission, 24 November 2011: “THAILAND: Twenty years in prison for four SMS messages

Prachatai, 24 September 2011: “Trial of alleged SMS sender begins

Prachatai, 23 March 2011: “Bail again denied for man accused of sending offensive SMS”

Prachatai, 25 January 2011: “No bail for man accused of sending SMS”

Prachatai, 20 January 2011: “SMS sender arraigned for alleged lèse majesté and denied bail”

Bangkok Post, 3 August 2010: “Man arrested for lese majesty SMSs”

63 responses

20 01 2011
Send and SMS, get up to 15 years in jail? | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] anniversary, another person is in court on lese majeste charges. Prachatai reports on the case of Ampol Tangnopakul, a 61 year-old man arrested by Crime Suppression Division police on 3 August 2010 for sending SMS […]

26 01 2011
Updates on lese majeste and flip-flops | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] first update involves the lese majeste by SMS case against Ampol Tangnopakul who has once again been denied bail “by the Appeals Court after he was indicted and sent to […]

4 09 2011
Another lese majeste case sent to the UN | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] that the Freedom of Expression Documentation Center of iLaw has submitted the lese majeste case of Ampol Tangnopakul to the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. This follows the submission of the case […]

24 09 2011
Ampol Tangnopakul’s lese majeste trial begins | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] media attention is directed to the trial of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, the less publicized trial of Ampol Tangnopakul has begun. Click on the links for details on both […]

15 10 2011
30 11 2011
End lese majeste repression! « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…]  appeal was made on Facebook and through other social media and referred to the conviction of Ampol Tangnopakul and his 20 year sentence. The appeal points out that there was “widespread criticism about […]

30 11 2011
EU expresses deep concern on lese majeste « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Thailand has expressed “deep concern” at Thailand’s jailing of a 61-year-old man [Ampol Tangnopakul] for sending text messages deemed offensive to the royal family. They have “urged the […]

3 12 2011
HRW on lese majeste penalties « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Human Rights Watch has issued a statement on lese majeste, taking the opportunity afforded by the recent sentencing of Ampol Tangnopakul. […]

18 12 2011
Jahrzehntelange Haft: In Thailand verstößt Amnesty International gegen die eigenen Grundsätze « Der Gleichklang-Polit-Blog

[…] weil er 4 SMS versandt haben soll, von denen es heißt, dass sie die Königin beleidigten (siehe hier). Der Name des für diese Unrechtsurteile verantwortlichen Richters lautet: Chanathip Muanphawong. […]

20 01 2012
Lese majeste victims threaten hunger strike « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Daranee “Da Torpedo” Chanrncherngsilapakul, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, and Ampon Tangnoppakul, among […]

20 01 2012
Lese majeste victims threaten hunger strike « Political Prisoners of Thailand's Blog

[…] Daneattananusorn, Daranee “Da Torpedo” Chanrncherngsilapakul, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, and Ampon Tangnoppakul, among […]

21 01 2012
Lese majeste victim Ampol to appeal « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Bangkok Post reports that Ampol Tangnopakul is to appeal his lese majeste conviction for sending messages supposedly denigrating the queen to […]

22 01 2012
Lese majeste victim Ampol to appeal « Political Prisoners of Thailand's Blog

[…] Bangkok Post reports that Ampol Tangnopakul is to appeal his lese majeste conviction for sending messages supposedly denigrating the queen to […]

23 01 2012
Lèse majesté prisoners threaten hunger strike over new prison-PPT « FACT – Freedom Against Censorship Thailand

[…] Daneattananusorn, Daranee “Da Torpedo” Chanrncherngsilapakul, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, and Ampon Tangnoppakul, among […]

31 01 2012
Akong SMS Ampol to appeal 20-year sentence-PPT « FACT – Freedom Against Censorship Thailand

[…] Bangkok Post reports that Ampol Tangnopakul is to appeal his lese majeste conviction for sending messages supposedly denigrating the queen to […]

24 02 2012
Keeping them locked up « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] this report, the Appeals Court has rejected a bail request by Ampol Tangnopakul. His lawyer reports that that on 22 February, the […]

24 02 2012
Keeping them locked up « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] this report, the Appeals Court has rejected a bail request by Ampol Tangnopakul. His lawyer reports that that on 22 February, the […]

24 02 2012
PAD and the airport saga « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] plot against the government and come up with weird conspiracy theories, lese majeste victims Ampol Tangnopakul, Darunee Charnchoensilpakul, Joe Gordon, Tanthawut Taweewarodomkul, Wanchai Saetan, Somyos […]

24 02 2012
PAD and the airport saga « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] plot against the government and come up with weird conspiracy theories, lese majeste victims Ampol Tangnopakul, Darunee Charnchoensilpakul, Joe Gordon, Tanthawut Taweewarodomkul, Wanchai Saetan, Somyos […]

28 02 2012
Lèse majesté: Throwing away they key-PPT « FACT – Freedom Against Censorship Thailand

[…] this report, the Appeals Court has rejected a bail request by Ampol Tangnopakul. His lawyer reports that that on 22 February, the […]

28 02 2012
Lèse majesté: Throwing away the key-PPT « FACT – Freedom Against Censorship Thailand

[…] this report, the Appeals Court has rejected a bail request by Ampol Tangnopakul. His lawyer reports that that on 22 February, the […]

25 04 2012
HRW on lese majeste I « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] December 2011, however, following the ludicrous sentencing of Ampol Tangnopakul, HRW seemed to backslide, moving from its call to “revoke” the lese majeste law to […]

25 04 2012
HRW on lese majeste I « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] December 2011, however, following the ludicrous sentencing of Ampol Tangnopakul, HRW seemed to backslide, moving from its call to “revoke” the lese majeste law to “amend” […]

9 05 2012
Updated: Lese majeste convict Ampol dies in jail « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] is with great sadness that PPT joins other media outlets in noting the death of Ampol Tangnopakul in jail while serving his ludicrously long sentence for lese majeste, in a case that was riddles […]

9 05 2012
Updated: Lese majeste convict Ampol dies in jail « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] is with great sadness that PPT joins other media outlets in noting the death of Ampol Tangnopakul in jail while serving his ludicrously long sentence for lese majeste, in a case that was riddles […]

9 05 2012
Other lese majeste news « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] There are two other items of lese majeste news that have perhaps been missed on a day when the news has been dominated by the death of lese majeste victim Ampol Tangnopakul. […]

10 05 2012
Other lese majeste news « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] There are two other items of lese majeste news that have perhaps been missed on a day when the news has been dominated by the death of lese majeste victim Ampol Tangnopakul. […]

15 05 2012
15 05 2012
Ji on Ampol and lese majeste at Green Left « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] statement by lese majeste exile Ji Ungpakorn following the death in custody of lese majeste convict Ampol Tangnopakul. Ji has a new commentary at Green Left Weekly. Even though the account is pretty close to the […]

29 06 2012
Taking on monarchist claptrap « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] in such cases, including those of Mr. Lerpong Wichaikhammart (Joe Gordon) and the late Mr. Amphon Tangnoppagul (Akong), were carried out in accordance with the rule of law. All of them have been accorded due […]

29 06 2012
Taking on monarchist claptrap « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Ampol Tangnopakul […]

30 06 2012
More MFA claptrap « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Ampol Tangnopakul […]

30 06 2012
More MFA claptrap « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] In other posts earlier in the month, we reproduced the Asian Legal Resource Center’s statement to the U.N. Human Rights Council on continuing attacks on freedom of expression in Thailand and the death in custody of lese majeste convict Ampol Tangnopakul. […]

3 07 2012
Taking on monarchist claptrap-PPT « FACT – Freedom Against Censorship Thailand

[…] in such cases, including those of Mr. Lerpong Wichaikhammart (Joe Gordon) and the late Mr. Amphon Tangnoppagul(Akong), were carried out in accordance with the rule of law. All of them have been accorded due […]

21 08 2012
Trivialities and Thailand « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Ampol Tangnopakul […]

21 08 2012
Trivialities and Thailand « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] banned biography about the Thai king and posting it online. He was freed in July by a royal pardon. Amphon Tangnoppakul was not so fortunate. He died in prison in May at age 62, less than a year into a 20-year sentence […]

10 09 2012
A lese majeste update « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Ampol Tangnopakul […]

10 09 2012
A lese majeste update « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] article begins by noting that Joe Gordon, Ampol Tangnopakul and Darunee Charnchoensilpakul were each sentenced in late 2011. For those who forget these […]

16 09 2012
Ampol’s funeral book « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Ampol Tangnopakul […]

16 09 2012
Ampol’s funeral book « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Provocateur has begun posting a translation of the funeral book for Ampol Tangnopakul. We won’t repeat the information there, but simply draw attention to the availability of the […]

18 09 2012
Lese majeste and elite (in)justice « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Ampol Tangnopakul […]

18 09 2012
Lese majeste and elite (in)justice « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] points out that Somyos Pruksakasemsuk, Darunee Charnchoensilpakul, the late Ampol Tangnopakul,  and Wanchai Saetan have suffered similar refusals of bail. She could have added Joe Gordon, […]

1 10 2012
Ampol’s funeral book (part 2) « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Ampol Tangnopakul […]

1 10 2012
Ampol’s funeral book (part 2) « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Provocateur has posted the second part of a translation of the funeral book for Ampol Tangnopakul. We won’t repeat the information there, but draw attention to the availability of this […]

31 10 2012
Updated: Surapak acquitted! « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Ampol Tangnopakul […]

31 10 2012
Surapak acquitted! « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] His aged mother Taem Phuchasaeng, 68, said: “It is a pity that certain other lese majeste defendants were not in a position to defend themselves. I was quite sorry, in particular, about the death of Ah Kong [Ampol Tangnopakul].” […]

5 12 2012
Lese majeste not forgotten « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Ampol Tangnopakul […]

5 12 2012
Lese majeste not forgotten « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] on lese majeste/computer crimes cases: Ampol Tangnopakul (died while incarcerated), Boonyuen Prasertying, Chiranuch Premchaiporn, Darunee […]

31 12 2012
Persons of the year « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Ampol Tangnopakul […]

31 12 2012
Persons of the year « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] of these political prisoners – Ampol Tangnopakul and Wanchai Raksanguansilp – died in 2012 while incarcerated.  Darunee Charnchoensilpakul has […]

11 05 2013
Remembering Ampol | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] The 10th of May was the anniversary of the death in custody of lese majeste convict Ampol Tangnopakul. PPT has the whole sorry tale of royalist vindictiveness against an old man they believed had insulted the queen here. […]

11 05 2013
Remembering Ampol | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] The 10th of May was the anniversary of the death in custody of lese majeste convict Ampol Tangnopakul. PPT has the whole sorry tale of royalist vindictiveness against an old man they believed had insulted the queen here. […]

30 06 2013
Visiting Somyos | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] in the same situation as Pa-Ueh (Rosmarin) who did not even say good bye to her husband, Ah-Kong (Amphon [Tangnopakul]), before his last […]

30 06 2013
Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] in the same situation as Pa-Ueh (Rosmarin) who did not even say good bye to her husband, Ah-Kong (Amphon [Tangnopakul]), before his last […]

30 06 2013
Visiting Somyos | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] in the same situation as Pa-Ueh (Rosmarin) who did not even say good bye to her husband, Ah-Kong (Amphon [Tangnopakul]), before his last […]

14 08 2013
Inquest on Ampol’s death | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] days ago, reporting the beginning of the inquest into the death in custody of lese majeste prisoner Ampol Tangnopakul. His wife, Rosmalin, requested that the court to investigate the circumstances of his […]

14 08 2013
Inquest on Ampol’s death | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] days ago, reporting the beginning of the inquest into the death in custody of lese majeste prisoner Ampol Tangnopakul. His wife, Rosmalin, requested that the court to investigate the circumstances of his […]

31 10 2013
Updated: “Inadequate evidence of negligence” | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] an AFP report, the results of an inquest into the death in custody of lese majeste convict Ampol Tangnopakul are set out. The impunity available for state officials is […]

31 10 2013
Update: “Inadequate evidence of negligence” | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] an AFP report, the results of an inquest into the death in custody of lese majeste convict Ampol Tangnopakul are set out. The impunity available for state officials is […]

15 03 2014
Thailand’s own holy inquisition | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] government. The use of a feudal law against political opponents, including those who are ill, has seen one person die in jail after cruel sentencing. Others have been sentenced to mammoth jail terms for infringements of a law that has many of the […]

15 03 2014
Thailand’s own holy inquisition | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] government. The use of a feudal law against political opponents, including those who are ill, has seen one person die in jail after cruel sentencing. Others have been sentenced to mammoth jail terms for infringements of a law that has many of the […]

23 03 2014
Don’t forget the lese majeste prisoners | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Aum Neko, who is about to front police on a politically-inspired summons on lese majeste attended the protest, highlighting case like Somyos, Darunee Charncheonsilapakul, serving 15 years and in prison since 2008, and the death in jail of lese majeste prisoner Ampol Tangnopakul. […]

23 03 2014
Don’t forget the lese majeste prisoners | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Aum Neko, who is about to front police on a politically-inspired summons on lese majeste attended the protest, highlighting case like Somyos, Darunee Charncheonsilapakul, serving 15 years and in prison since 2008, and the death in jail of lese majeste prisoner Ampol Tangnopakul. […]




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