Another big sentence for Facebook lese majeste

20 01 2016

Prachatai reports that yet another Facebook user has been thrown into jail for allegedly “defaming” the monarchy in posts.

On 20 January 2016, the Criminal Court sentenced Piya J. to nine years imprisonment for lese majeste and computer crimes, reduced by one third.

Piya is a 46 year-old computer programmer who was arrested on 11 December 2014 and charged with allegedly posting “defamatory” comments and pictures of the king on 27 and 28 July 2013. He allegedly used the Facebook profile of Pongsathorn Bantorn.

At an initial secret hearing in May 2015, Piya denied the allegations. Prachatai reports that:

Since his arrest, he has consistently denied his involvement in the lèse majesté Facebook profile, which was not his, although the picture on the profile was his picture, which was taken from the defendant’s Twitter and Google Plus accounts.

The only incriminating evidence produced in this case is reportedly an image of the king on a mobile phone. Other computer evidence and IP addresses “were not considered on the case.” According to the report there was only “weak evidence” against Piya. The court, however, accepted “the testimony of Achariya Ruangratpong, one of the plaintiff[s], as primary evidence on the case.” In most courts around the rest of the world, this evidence would be inadmissible or considered hearsay.

A “former officer of the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET),” Piya says he “has never participated in any political demonstration and said that he has no interests in politics.”