Prachatai has revealed two little-known lese majeste cases. One involves a secret trial and conviction and the other is the ongoing and first known case brought under the Yingluck Shinawatra government, with the defendant held in prison without bail. PPT saw this story first at the Thai-language version of Prachatai and is pleased to report that it is now available in English.
In the convicted case, in secret trials in 2009, Wanchai (family name withheld), about 60 and a Singaporean who has lived in Thailand for over 30 years and speaks fluent Thai, received combined sentences of 15 years for pleading guilty to charges of disseminating leaflets considered offensive to the monarchy.
On 6 April 2009, he was arrested near Government House during a protest rally of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship. He was distributing 6-page leaflets strongly critical of the 2006 coup.
Angered by the seizure of airports by the People’s Alliance for Democracy in December 2008, he wrote a document of over 50 pages. He later edited it into leaflets and distributed them at more than 10 schools and universities. According to friends, he was not affiliated with the UDD. On the day of his arrest, he was seized by the UDD guards who saw him handing out the leaflets, and they took him to the police.
His trial was held in secret and even his wife had to stay outside the court. He was denied bail and the court handed down its verdict on 26 February 2010.
According to the prosecution, Wanchai’s leaflets “contained offensive comments with the intention of making the public lose faith and respect for the King.”
The court found him guilty and gave him a jail term of 15 years. However, “as he had confessed during the investigation and his testimony was considered somewhat beneficial to court proceedings, the jail term was reduced by one-third to 10 years.”
On 5 March 2010, the public prosecutor brought another case against him, this time for distributing the same leaflets at Kasetsart University Demonstration School on 16 February 2009 and on 28 February 2011, he was given a 10-year prison sentence, which was reduced to 5 years because of his guilty plea.
The report says Wanchai is presently imprisoned in Zone 4 of Bangkok Remand Prison.
In the other case, which is still pending, 40-year-old software developer Suraphak (family name not released, although PPT has a post on the case), was arrested by Technology Crime Suppression Division police on 1 September 2011. He was accused of being the owner of a Facebook page entitled ‘I shall reign with … [censored]’ which allegedly contained messages offensive to the monarchy. He denied all charges.
His 4th 12-day remand period is set to expire on 20 October, and a further bail application will be made. All previous bail requests were denied.