Thaksin to face lèse majesté charges

15 05 2009

The Nation (15 May 2009: “Thaksin to be indicted”) has breaking news on lèse majesté charges about to be laid against former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

In a case of “unexpect the expected” police officials have said that Thaksin should be “recommended for indictment” because of what are said to be “offensive comments about the monarchy” during the events that led to the Songkran Uprising and immediately after.

Special Branch commissioner Lt General Theeradet Rodphothong stated that the “police report has drawn the conclusion that Thaksin has committed lese majeste as per Article 112 of the Criminal Code…”. The policeman added that “Thaksin made numerous disrespectful references to the royal institution in his interviews to the foreign press describing the riots by the red-shirt crowd.”

The Nation reports that the “investigation report is expected to be submitted for final review by police headquarters before forwarding to the Attorney-General’s Office.”

As noted above, this was not unexpected. But what of the implications? Thaksin might be charged with offenses against the monarchy while abroad and for comments made in the international press. This potentially puts many others at risk. Think of all those foreign academics who write about the monarchy and of journalists and columnists around the world.

PPT will be interested to see how the Abhisit Vejjajiva government deals with this. We do not expect the unexpected. Abhisit’s record on such charges since he has been prime minister has been abysmal and the Democrat Party has shown that it is prepared to be proudly political in protecting the monarchy.

Update: Bangkok Post has different details in its story, claiming Thaksin was investigated for calling on the king to intervene to stop the confrontations and violence of the Songkhran Uprising.

This does not change PPT’s view of the consequences of this action (set out above)  if Thaksin is charged. Rather, it makes the use of this law even more ridiculous: if Thaksin can’t call for royal intervention, then there are hundreds of others who need to be charged as well, not least being all those in PAD who called for Thaksin’s ouster by the king under Article 7 of the 1997 Constitution in 2006. The law should be scrapped.

PPT has added Thaksin to our section on pending cases.


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