The Appeals Court has upheld the 15-year lese majeste prison term for Darunee Charnchoensilpakul. Da Torpedo is being punished for comments deemed insulting of the king and queen in a political speech in 2008. She was a strong critic of the 2006 military coup.
It was the so-called People’s Alliance for Democracy and its supporters who originally brought media attention to her speech at an anti-coup rally, baying for Darunee’s incarceration on lese majeste charges. Repeatedly refused bail and dragged through secret trials and a series of appeals, the royalist courts have repeatedly made it clear that Darunee is to be punished. Readers can see the details of royal and royalist retribution here.
It is worth noting that the charges were laid – under huge political pressure – by the pro-Thaksin Shinawatra government led by the late Samak Sundaravej.
The Appeals Court ruled that her conviction and long sentence on three counts of lese majeste and agreed with prosecutors that her speech “expressed her malicious intent against Their Majesties the King and the Queen.” The prosecutors say that the speeches “led to misunderstanding and caused DAAD [UDD] demonstrators to hate Their Majesties…”. YouTube has four excerpts from one of her offending speeches, in Thai, with limited English titling. Search for “Da Torpedo” at YouTube and the speeches come up.
The Appeals Court judges reportedly “saw that Daranee’s behaviour had caused damage to the reputation of Their Majesties and she deserved to be punished to warn others not to follow her example.”
PPT has made this point several times in the past – Darunee’s case is important for the royals and royalists as an example. Of course, the things that she said are widely known and, today, are all over social media. Yet she was one of the first to use these items as parts of political speeches in the post-coup era and is thus punished many times over in sham trials and repeated violations of her constitutional and other legal rights.
Darunee is a political martyr for free expression and in establishing a debate on the political role of the monarchy. Her case was one of the first to gain media attention – albeit tepid – in the massive increase of lese majeste charges hurled at political opponents following the coup.