It is with great sadness that PPT joins other media outlets in noting the death of Ampol Tangnopakul in jail while serving his ludicrously long sentence for lese majeste, in a case that was riddles with poor evidence, the nastiness of the royalist Democrat Party and a horribly biased judicial system.
Prachatai reports that the 61-year-old Ampol known also as “Ah Kong” and “Uncle SMS” was sentenced to 20 years on lese majeste charges in November 2011. He passed away yesterday.
It was known that Ampol was seriously ill when he was sentenced, and he received inadequate medical attention while incarcerated. Bail requests for the grandfather had been refused eight times, all in the name of protecting the world’s richest monarchy.
Ampol’s lawyer stated: “If Ampon’s right to temporary release was upheld, he could’ve gone to see the doctor and such a tragedy might not have happened…”.
His conviction based on accusations that he sent four text messages to the personal secretary of former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. Presumably with Abhisit’s approval, the secretary made a police complaint that eventually resulted in the aged, sick and poor grandfather being sentenced to 20 years. At the time, PPT commented that this was effectively a death sentence.
Ampol’s wife, Rosmalin said: “I simply have no idea about the cause of his death. But I wonder why an old man like Ah Kong has to endure such an ordeal in jail like this…”. Sadly, the answer is that he was treated like this, and given a death sentence, because that is what the royalist establishment demanded.
Update: Andrew MacGregor Marshall at Zen Journalist has made a significant contribution to the Ampol case by posting the prosecutor’s charge sheet (in Thai), which PPT has re-posted at our page on Ampol. He also provides a critique of Ampol’s case that is going to be shocking for many who read it, linking the case to broader issues of intra-royal family politics and by including the texts of the messages Ampol’s court case addressed. The site will be blocked in Thailand, but for those who can should view it.