Challenging the courts on lese majeste

18 09 2017

One of the Stolen history 6, human rights lawyer Prawet Praphanukul (57) has challenged the courts on lese majeste.

Prawet is one of six persons detained on 29 April 2017 for alleged lese majeste for apparently sharing a Facebook post by Somsak Jeamteerasakul on the theft of the 1932 revolution plaque on about 5 April 2017. The junta has “blacklisted” the exiled Somsak and considered the post to favor republicanism. Other charges thrown at Prawet included computer crimes and sedition.

He has been in custody since the military grabbed him.

While little is known of the fate of the other five, Prawet, who has been critical of the military dictatorship and the lese majeste law and has defended lese majeste victims, faces a total of somewhere 171 years in jail, depending on the charges finally brought (although maximum sentencing in Thailand is 50 years).

According to the Bangkok Post, Prawet “has told the court [on 18 September] he did not accept the Thai judicial system and forfeited his right to examine witnesses and evidence against him.” Prawet said that as he did not accept the judicial system on lese majeste, then he “did not wish to examine witnesses and evidence against him.”

Prachatai states that Prawet’s challenge is to the court’s “impartiality … in his case, as it is related to the monarchy.” It reports that he prepared a statement on this lack of impartiality:

“Thai courts do not have the legitimacy to try the case. Therefore, I declare that I do not accept the judicial process in the case,” Prawais wrote, adding that he will not participate in the case nor grant authority to any lawyer to represent him.

Facing 50 years in prison, he believes that it will not make any difference whether he pleads guilty or innocent because he will not be able tell the truth anyhow.

The court, seemingly flummoxed, fell back on its usual approach on recalcitrant lese majeste victims and decided to drag things out and punish-torture Prawet. His next scheduled hearing will be on 8 May 2018.  Presumably, the court hopes that having him jailed will change his mind and he will plead guilty. If not, the court seeks to silence his criticism.

Prawet’s stand is brave and he’s undoubtedly correct. As far as we can recall, he is the first to challenge the courts in this way.


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20 09 2017
Giving up on the justice system | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] about the same time that human rights lawyer Prawet Praphanukul challenged the courts on lese majeste, there has been a second lese majeste-related poke at Thailand’s seriously flawed and deeply […]

20 09 2017
Giving up on the justice system | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] about the same time that human rights lawyer Prawet Praphanukul challenged the courts on lese majeste, there has been a second lese majeste-related poke at Thailand’s seriously flawed and deeply […]

22 09 2017
Justice system no longer makes sense | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] others we have recently posted on (here and here), Piyarat is disillusioned by the (in)justice […]

22 09 2017
Justice system no longer makes sense | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] others we have recently posted on (here and here), Piyarat is disillusioned by the (in)justice […]