Sondhi cleared of lese majeste

26 09 2012


Sondhi Limthongkul has joined the 5%. By that we mean that he becomes one of the very few who has been acquitted of a lese majeste charge. At AFP it is reported that People’s Alliance for Democracy leader Sondhi was acquitted by the Criminal Court on a charge dating back to comments he made in 2008 when he was demanding that the police bring lese majeste charges against political opponent Darunee Charnchoensilpakul.

One of the judges reportedly stated that Sondhi “had ‘no intention’ of breaching strict lese majeste laws in his 2008 comments…”. The judge added: “The court has found that the defendant quoted parts of another person’s speech with the intention to call for police to take legal action against that person…. The defendant’s action was not intended to insult the monarchy.”

Despite his acquittal, Sondhi, who wasn’t charged until July 2010 (under the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime) said “the charges against him originated from unspecified political rivals.” He claimed that: “There is an effort to put me in jail…”, believing that politicians and the judicial system conspired against him. In fact, the “conspiracy” has been to keep him out of jail, as a look at his record shows.

Meanwhile, Darunee’s case dragged on and on as she was put through a farcical series of trials that eventually saw her jailed for 15 years in December 2011. She remains in jail, where she has been since 22 July 2008.

Sondhi’s case was always a legal sick joke. But legal jokes are the norm when it comes to lese majeste. His hysterical demands that Darunee be locked up to protect the monarchy were part of a political campaign by ultra-royalists and their allies in the military, palace and Democrat Party as they agitated against yet another elected government that was pro-Thaksin Shinawatra. Neither Sondhi nor Darunee should have been charged. However, the fact that Darunee has been jailed for more than four years while Sondhi is treated by the courts as more or less untouchable says much about the continuing bias of the judiciary.




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