Prachatai-related lese majeste case drags on

21 10 2015

In a case reported at Prachatai, the “Supreme Court has dismissed charges against Noppawan Tangudomsuk, accused of posting lese majeste messages on the Prachatai web-board in 2008, citing inconclusive evidence.”

She was accused of and charged with lese majeste and offenses under the 2007 Computer Crimes Act for posts at that board, apparently in 2008. She was arrested on 30 January 2009 and was bailed after 10 days.

The case remains murky, but was central to evidence given at the trial of Chiranuch Premchaiporn in 2011-12. Little is known of the case, with Prachatai sometimes identifying Noppawan as Bento, an internet alias. In one instance, a lower court heard that:

a Prachatai poster known as ‘Bento’, the only one to be prosecuted although police have identified the posters of the remaining nine comments with which Chiranuch is charged. Noppawan […] was acquitted of lèse majesté. The witness noted that ‘Bento’’s name had simply been replaced with Chiranuch’s in prosecution charge documents. He noted drily that the message not deleted by Prachatai’s webmaster stayed up for 20 days, unnoticed not only by MICT censors but by other users of Prachatai’s forum.

When the case came to the Supreme Court, the judges decided that an IP address, “which the prosecutors used as primary evidence, it cannot be proven that the suspect posted the lèse majesté messages because IP addresses can easily be faked.” There were no witnesses.

In 2011, the lower court dismissed the charges, “citing the same reasons, thus giving her the benefit of the doubt. However, the Appeal Court in October 2013 overturned the decision of the Court of First Instance and sentenced Noppawan to five years in prison.” Now she has been acquitted again.

Chiranuch’s lese majeste case continues “at the Supreme Court and will be finalised at the end of this year.”


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