Thitinant Kaewchantanont‘s story was revealed after it was reported that a gang of ultra-royalist vigilantes stormed the international airport to prevent a “New Zealand-resident Thai woman accused of a lese majeste offence” from leaving on a “flight to Auckland yesterday…”. That was 17 July 2012.
Some 200 extremists “turned up at Suvarnabhumi airport to protest against her possible departure.” They “picketed outside the airport after learning that Thitinant Kaewchantranont, 63, was due to check in for a Thai Airways International (THAI) flight to Auckland.” It is unclear who mobilized these vigilantes.
The image she is said to have “defiled” using a foot was displayed during a “multi-color” (read ultra-royalist neo-fascists) rally when the Constitutional Court gave its verdict on the legalities of making changes to the charter.
Thitinant, aged 63, is said to have “a history of mental illness” and did not leave Thailand as scheduled because the police had “lodged a lese majeste complaint against her, [and] referred her to Srithanya Hospital in Nonthaburi to see if she is genuinely mentally ill.”
Police said they “would have prevented her from boarding, as they believed she was unfit to leave the country.” The Thai Aiways company said that the “plane’s captain had pledged to refuse to pilot the aircraft if Ms Thitinant was on board, arguing the woman could pose a security risk.”
By mid-August 2012, Thitinant had been diagnosed as mentally ill by psychiatrists. Astoundingly, the question for the royalist judiciary is to decide whether she was mentally ill at the time of the alleged offense or “partially sane,” which may still mean a conviction.
Thitinant’s case is the first case of lese majeste that PPT can confirm that has been entirely under the jurisdiction of the Yingluck Shinawatra government. Yingluck and all of her cabinet stand condemned for their continued use of this feudal law.
Media reports of Thitinant’s case:
Prachatai, 18 August 2012: “Doctors find woman accused of lèse majesté insane“
The Australian, 25 July 2012: “Concerns NZ resident held in Thailand“
Phuket News, 21 July 2012: “Rak Phuket group files lese majeste petition against Thai-born Kiwi“
Bangkok Post, 18 July 2012: “Lese majeste suspect admitted to hospital“