There’s a long report in the Bangkok Post regarding lese majeste victim Darunee Charnchoensilpakul (Da Torpedo)’s appearance in court where the Criminal Court read out the Constitution Court’s verdict that the closed trial of Darunee’s case was not unconstitutional. This is not just a reinforcement of the personal tragedy of lese majeste repression against Darunee but a huge black mark against Thailand’s legal and constitutional systems.
For Darunee, sentenced to 18 years in jail for lese majeste, her only hope seems to be a royal pardon.
That’s the way the system works, not just for one who doesn’t plead guilty. The symbolism is that the lese majeste victim is charged and sentenced often without the details of the charges ever being particularly clear, and then the “benevolent monarch” is seen to grant a pardon, with the media sometimes giving more attention to the pardon than to the case itself. So while nurturing and cherishing a draconian law, long periods of imprisonment and vicious repression that supports a monarchy that claims to need no such “protection” because it is loved by one and all, the monarch comes out smelling of roses. It is all a magician’s trick, but it helps maintain the facade.
Darunee is now calling on the court to “reschedule the delivery of its final verdict to before the end of November. Then she would at least become eligible for consideration for a royal pardon under the usual conditions.” She feels the “Criminal Court is unfairly denying her the chance of a royal pardon by delaying its final verdict until Dec 15, after His Majesty the King’s birthday.”
All she can do is “live in hope that the court would show mercy and reschedule the reading of her verdict so she could at least be entitled to apply for a pardon.” She has already been in prison since 22 July 2008.
Commenting on the decree required for pardons, she said: “It’s time to measure the heart of the government, which was elected by the power of the red-shirt members. There are also other people such as Surachai and Somyot who should be also included in the list…”.
The report states that “there are 11 other lese majeste prisoners in Bangkok Remand Prison. Three of their court cases have already reached the final verdict.” She added: “The current government might forget that they are here now due to the sacrifice of many others.”
Interestingly, she revealed that “she remained thankful to Bhumjaithai Party de facto leader Newin Chidchob who had provided monthly financial support during the first 14 months, but after his party joined the Democrat-led administration, he stopped sending the money.”
While a dedicated red shirt, she pointed out that: “No politicians have ever visited me, neither the core leaders of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship. My spirit remains intact only because of my own brother’s weekly visit [which ceased when he was jailed in a forgotten and relatively minor case from 1999] and some individual red-shirt members who still care for me…”.
Meanwhile, the Criminal Court said that new judges could be involved in reading of the verdict, so delayed the reading until 15 December. Just one more venal act by a very nasty system that presides over lese majeste repression.
Update: Pipob Udomittipong has a brief account of the Constitutional Court’s decision that a secret trial is not unconstitutional at Prachatai.