Thailand’s own holy inquisition

15 03 2014

In July 2012, a gang of ultra-royalist vigilantes stormed the international airport to prevent a “New Zealand-resident Thai woman” who they accused of a lese majeste offence from leaving on a to Auckland. Some 200 extremists arrived at the airport to protest against the possible departure of Thitinant Kaewchantanont.

The royalist extremists charged that the woman had “defiled” a picture of the king using a foot was displayed during a “multi-color” (read ultra-royalist neo-fascist) rally at their Constitutional Court.

Thitinant is said to have “a history of mental illness” – she was apparently diagnosed as “bipolar” in 2003. She was prevented from leaving Thailand because the police had “lodged a lese majeste complaint against her, [and] referred her to Srithanya Hospital in Nonthaburi to see if she is genuinely mentally ill.”

The ultra-royalists at Thai Airways proclaimed that the plane’s captain had pledged to refuse to pilot the aircraft if Thitinant was on board.

By mid-August 2012, Thitinant had been diagnosed as mentally ill by psychiatrists. Astoundingly, at the time it was said that the question for the royalist judiciary was to determine if she was mentally ill at the time of the alleged offense or “partially sane,” which could still mean a conviction.

Finally, on 11 March 2014, the Criminal Court on Tuesday began hearing the case under the draconian lese majeste law.

In the intervening period, Thitinant has been “detained in a mental institute for 45 days and then at the Women’s Correctional Institute in Bangkok for about a month. She later was bailed with a 300,000 baht guarantee.”

The court heard prosecution witnesses from March 11 to 14 and defense witnesses will be heard on 18 March.

As best PPT can determine, Thitinant’s case is the first case of lese majeste that PPT can confirm that has been entirely under the jurisdiction of the Yingluck Shinawatra government. The use of a feudal law against political opponents, including those who are ill, has seen one person die in jail after cruel sentencing. Others have been sentenced to mammoth jail terms for infringements of a law that has many of the hallmarks of the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition.


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