Updated: Inhumane junta-style lese majeste

20 01 2021

Clipped from Prachatai

Following the 2014 military coup, the junta set about repressing opponents, wielding Article 112. This mostly involved red shirts, their associates and those considered anti-monarchist. The junta used military courts and secret trials and the tame and royalist judiciary began handing out mammoth lese majeste sentences, some of them in the range 30-50 years.

After the much-hyped 112 hiatus, attributed to King Vajiralongkorn, the anti-monarchism of the past year or so has scared the palace and the regime witless. The result is that old, languishing cases are back on, there are some 54 new cases, and the sentences being meted out are again in stratospheric realms of the unbelievable.

The most recent case, that of the 63 year-old Anchan P., breaks sad records. She’s been declared guilty and was “sentenced to 87 years in prison, with the sentence reduced because of her confession and 3 years spent in prison pending her trial. The net sentence is 43 years and 6 months, the longest sentence ever under Section 112.” It seems that “[c]harges were brought under the lèse majesté law and the Computer Crime Act, but as the offences violated more than one law, the court ruled on the most serious offence, which is lèse majesté.”

In fact, we have a record of a longer sentence: Kamonthat Thanathornkhositjira was convicted and sentenced to 150 years on 33 charges including lese majetse; reduced to 50 years. But she had a long list of charges when she was declared guilty of lese majeste, fraud, falsifying documents and “invoking the royal institution.”

Anchan was by the military when her house was raided on 25 January 2015, and she was taken to a military camp. Her whereabouts was unknown until the sixth day after her arrest.

She was one of the initial six arrests of those associated with the so-called Banpot network. The Banpot 6 became the Banpot 8, then the Banpot 10 and Banpot 12 as the military dictatorship expanded arrests. Later, a further two were arrested, making it the Banpot 14. Some reports are that 16 people were eventually charged.

Ten of the alleged Banpot group were sentenced on 14 July 2015, by a military court. Two were acquitted of lese majeste charges but found guilty of supporting the network. Two others decided to defend the case, which meant long delays and “lese majeste torture.” The authorities prefer a guilty plea and it seems it took this long to get one from Anchan.

Anchan’s lawyer has filed an appeal and requested bail but “Anchan is now detained in the Central Women Correctional Institution, awaiting the court’s decision.”

If the sentence holds and she gets no remissions, Anchan would be aged about 107 years on her release. Quite a punishment for sharing material on social media that the authorities felt maligned a king.

This kind of sentencing should make the current regime an international pariah. Forget questions of human rights, this is an inhumane regime. On lese majeste, there is no justice as it is a political charge for the purposes of political repression.

Update: Prachatai reports that on 20 January, the Court of Appeal refused Anchan’s bail request:

According to the ruling, the reasons for the objection are due to her high prison sentence, the defendant also had confessed, her actions had brought derogation to the institution of monarchy which “affected the mind of people who are loyal” and which that the lèse majesté case relates to the security of the kingdom.



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