42 years for lese majeste

29 01 2023

As we briefly mentioned in a recent post, Mongkol Thirakhote was recently found guilty of 14 counts of lese majeste by the Chiang Rai Provincial Court. The charges all related to Facebook posts deemed “insulting” of the monarchy.

Prachatai reports on his case.

Mongkol, now 29 is an online clothing vendor from Chiang Rai, was arrested in April 2021 while taking part in a hunger strike at the Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court to demand the release of political prisoners held in pre-trial detention.

He was later charged under Article 112 and for computer crimes. He was accused of insulting the monarchy in 25 Facebook posts he made between 2 and 11 March 2021, “including messages referring to the King’s images, sharing video clips and foreign news reports about the Thai monarchy, and sharing posts from Somsak Jeamteerasakul’s Facebook page while adding captions.”

As far as we can tell, none of these reports and posts were incorrect or false.

Police searched his house in Chiang Rai and “confiscated several pieces of paper with messages written on them, a declaration by the activist group Ratsadorn, an armband with the three-finger salute symbol, and a red ribbon, and had his mother sign documents to acknowledge the search and confiscation. Mongkhon’s mobile phone was also confiscated when he was arrested in Bangkok.”

He was re-arrested in May 2021 and slapped with two further lese majeste and computer crimes charges for two other Facebook posts.

He got bail after both arrests.

On 26 January 2023, the Chiang Rai Provincial Court “found Mongkhon guilty of 14 counts of royal defamation, on the ground that 14 out of the 27 posts can be determined to be about King Vajiralongkorn and that they are an expression of opinion that is outside the limit of the law. As for the remaining 13 posts, the Court said that they were either about the late King Bhumibol or an undetermined person and dismissed them.”

It now seems that judges have been instructed to stick more closely to the letter of the law rather than convicting for statements regarding dead kings. In the past, the courts had concocted such convictions.

The court sentenced Mongkol to three years in prison on each of the 14 lese majeste convictions, meaning a total of 42 years, said to be the second lengthiest prison term for lese majeste. As usual, the court “reduced the sentence to 2 years per count because he gave useful testimony, giving a total sentence of 28 years…”.

The court had “ordered Mongkhon to be tried in secret, and that initially no one not involved in the trial was allowed inside the courtroom. Mongkhon’s lawyer had to ask the court for permission before Mongkhon’s parents could enter the courtroom.”

Mongkol “was later granted bail to appeal his charges on the condition that he must not do anything that damages the monarchy or leave the country. Since he posted bail using a total of 300,000 baht in security when he was arrested, the court did not require additional security.”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: