Updated: Somyos convicted

23 01 2013

Somyos Prueksakasemsuk has been convicted on lese majeste charges. The Bangkok Post reports that he has been “sentenced to five years on each of the two charges, and the court cancelled the suspension of a previous one-year sentence – for a total of 11 years in prison, a cumulative sentence.” It adds that the harshness of the sentence “caught both Somyot and his family – his wife and son – totally by surprise…”.

The sentence was 11 years because the court “said Somyot was given a one-year suspended jail term in 2009 but he had again committed the crime of defaming the royal institution and threatening and insulting the monarchy, so his previous prison term was added to the five-year sentence for each of the two fresh offences he committed by publishing the two articles. In total, he was sentenced to 11 years.”

He will appeal the conviction.

Some 200 supporters who packed the courtroom were “from the diplomatic community, civil society and the media, along with members of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD)…”.

According to the report, the four-judge panel “rebutted the arguments and opinions given by seven defence witnesses but put weight on prosecution witnesses, including Tongthong Chandrangsu, the Prime Minister’s Office permanent secretary, security officers from the Internal Security Operating Command (Isoc), and librarians at the National Library of Thailand,” while ignoring defense claims that the author of the articles “revealed to the court as Jakrapob Penkair, was not a defendant in the case,” and so the editor of the magazine should not be convicted.

It is reported that the:

Clean Clothes Campaign, the Free Somyot Campaign and the Thai Labour Campaign also deplored Somyot’s conviction, saying he is a prisoner of conscience and was convicted solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression and opinion, and the right to participate in public life….

They agreed the judgement is a serious blow to the rule of law in Thailand and would further contribute to self-censorship. The ruling was a violation of international human rights law, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Thailand had ratified.



%d bloggers like this: