It is no surprise to learn that “Da Torpedo,” Darunee Charnchoensilpakul, a former journalist, pro-Thaksin and democracy campaigner, who was arrested on 22 July 2008 on lese majeste charges, has been sentenced to 18 years in jail. No-one can claim that this was a fair trial as the decision comes from a court that was closed.
According to a Reuters report in the Sydney Morning Herald (28 August 2009: “Torpedo gets 18 years for insulting king”), she was sentenced to 6 years on each of “three different remarks deemed insulting to the monarchy during public political rallies…”. PPT had anticipated this outcome and so had Darunee, who said “I expected the verdict…”. She told reporters that she will appeal the verdict.
Darunee remained defiant, vowing to fight on. In fact, PPT believes that her refusal to plead guilty is the reason why she has received such a harsh sentence. Ususally, it is expected that those on lese majeste charges will plead guilty in the belief that they will receive a lighter sentence in exchange for the case not having to go to court. This view is expressed in a Financial Times (28 August 2009: “Thai activist jailed for 18 years”) article that states: “Few defendants in lèse majesté cases choose to fight the charges as Ms Daranee did: lawyers say the ill-defined laws are almost impossible to beat even in a case that is open to public scrutiny, and most choose to plead guilty and beg the king for mercy on conviction. Thai law stipulates that defendants who choose to admit the charges against them can receive more lenient sentences.”
Apparently 30-40 of her supporters were present for the reading of the verdict. See red shirt supporters here.
See the Thai report on the decision at จำคุก”ดา ตอร์บิโด”18ปีฐานหมิ่นสถาบัน.
For other reports, see the listing here.