Updated: Surachai convicted on lese majeste

28 02 2012

Surachai (a Bangkok Post photo)

At The Nation it is reported that the Criminal Court has sentenced Red Siam Group leader Surachai Danwattananusorn on lese majeste charges. As readers will know, Surachai, after almost a year in jail without bail, reluctantly decided to plead guilty.

The court sentenced him to 15 years, halving this for the guilty plea, meaning he will serve 7.5 years in jail for three counts of lese majeste from a set of speeches in late 2010.

His lawyers now say that “Surachai will seek a royal pardon.” He has another lese majeste charge pending.

At the Bangkok Post, Judge Chanathip Muanpawong is said to have “detailed a list of Mr Surachai’s activities as a member of the former Communist Party of Thailand (CPT), setting off a criminal explosion at a governor’s residence, and as a member of the former Thai Rak Thai and People Power parties, and other activities.” Some of these claims are highly disputed.

The court expressed opinions:

As an educated person and a former member of the Provincial Administrative Organisation in Nakhon Si Thammarat, he still committed a serious crime defaming, insulting and threatening the King and the Queen and the royal family who have done great service to the country. He was not chastened, therefore his sentence should not be suspended….

Surachai is reported to have damned the Yingluck Shinawatra government. said: “If the Yingluck government is really sincere about reconciliation, they have to push forward on [the issue of] royal amnesty.”

He added that he “would not plead guilty to the charge arising from his speech on Dec 15, 2008.”

Surachai reportedly issued a six-page hand-written statement titled:

“Don’t act as a military leader who destroys his own soldiers,” and addressed to the Yingluck government, asking if the ruling Pheu Thai Party was appeasing its former foes, the nobility, by getting rid of the party’s comrades and warriors.

“The Yingluck government and her party seem to have adopted the wrong strategy, thinking that the victory they won [the July 3 general election] was the ultimate goal and they no longer need to rely on their mass supporters, just as long as they can make a compromise for their mutual benefit with the nobility,” Surachai said in his statement.

He said the Pheu Thai Party did not really have full power, otherwise they would have already set free their jailed red-shirt supporters.

“The Abhisit government helped keep those who laid seige to the airports from being jailed, but this government is just appeasing the former foe by threatening those seeking the amendment of the Criminal Code’s Article 112 [the lese majeste law],” he said

Mr Surachai warned that the elite group was wiser than the “naive” Yingluck Shinawatra and her party.

“They are applying the same strategy as when they established ties with Beijing in order to sever the CPT support. Now the senior elites are making friends with Prime Minister Yingluck and waiting until this government eliminates it own soldiers and warriors, then the time will come to kick out the government,” the statement said.

His lawyer said he planned to appeal the verdict. PPT guesses this means the sentence.

Update: Both the BBC and Reuters report Surachai’s sentencing.





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