Lese majeste convict gets pardon

5 06 2013

An AFP report states that Wanchai Saetan, a Singaporean tourist guide who has lived in Thailand for several decades, was pardoned on Tuesday.

Wanchai, then around 60, was sentenced following a closed court and secret trial sometime in  26 February 2010. Even his wife was prevented from attending. Like many others, he was refused bail while awaiting his (political) court appearance.

News of this sentencing only became public in 2011. He was sentenced to 15 years jail for allegedly disseminating leaflets deemed offensive to the monarchy.

On 6 April 2009, the Singaporean, who has lived in Thailand for over 30 years and speaks fluent Thai, was arrested near Government House during a protest rally of the red shirts and charged with distributing 6-page leaflets strongly critical of the 2006 coup.

His outrage over the seizure of the airport by the People’s Alliance for Democracy in late 2008, saw him write the claimed document. The original version contained over 50 pages. He distributed the leaflets at more than 10 schools and universities.

According to friends, Wanchai was not affiliated to any political group, but had been to a few UDD rallies. He was reportedly seized by UDD guards when he distributed leaflets and they took him to the police.

At his sentencing, the court said that the defendant deserved severe punishment, and gave him a jail term of 15 years. However, as he had confessed during the investigation and his testimony was considered somewhat beneficial to court proceedings, the jail term was reduced by one-third to 10 years.

On 5 March 2010, the public prosecutor brought another case against him, this time for distributing the same leaflets at Kasetsart University Demonstration School on 16 February 2009. On 28 February 2011, he was given a 10-year prison sentence, which was reduced to 5 years because he had pleaded guilty. The total sentence was thus 15 years.

Remarkably, it is expected that Wanchai will be deported “because his residence permit has expired…”, being sent back to Singapore.


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