Hopeless on 112

30 08 2013

Readers are probably used to hearing of bizarre and politicized decisions in lese majeste cases that seem detached from legal reality.

This latest ruling, this time from the Supreme Court in Nakhon Ratchasima appears even more problematic, if that were possible. Khaosod has reported the upholding of the lese majeste conviction of Papatchanan Ching-in.

The court “has sentenced a local Redshirt leader to 3 years in jail for burning a coffin bearing the name of His Majesty the King′s Privy Councillor” General Prem Tinsulanonda.

The report states that she “had been found guilty under Section 112 of the Criminal Codes, which criminalises making insults or threats against His Majesty the King, His Majesty the Queen, and the Royal Heir.”

Of course, none of this has anything to do with Prem, a commoner and not included in Article 112, anywhere.

She was originally charged on 24 April 2009, after a group staged a protest against Privy Council President Prem , the People’s Alliance for Democracy and the Abhisit Vejjajiva government. The group burned a mock coffin at the  Tao Suranari statue, reportedly with an attached message referring to Prem by a royal prefix “Pra Ong Than,” meant to mock Prem and PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul who first used the term (see here). The coffin carried images of Prem and Abhisit.

Police said that charges had been filed by a military officer, Colonel Weerapattarapol Bunchiaw, attached to Army Region 2 and by PAD members, claiming “lèse majesté, violations of national security under Criminal Code Articles 113, 114 and 115, and defamation under Article 326.” Papatchanan  denied the charges and was released on bail. She was convicted under Article 112 by lower courts despite the fact that Prem is not covered by the law.

The lower courts “argued that such [a] display amounts to threatening … the King, as the title is only reserved for the King…. The Supreme Court has sided with the previous rulings…”. It is this warped legal (il)logic that lands this woman in jail.

It must be noted that no legal action has ever been considered for Sondhi who also used the term.

Such decisions indicate that the lese majeste law is a bizarre statute that allows judges to make essentially illegal and unconstitutional decisions.



%d bloggers like this: