Ekkachai Ployhin

EkkachaiEkkachai Ployhin was sentenced to 5 years in jail for lese majeste on 12 March 2015, for an offense allegedly committed in December 2008. His sentence was reduced by half for the (almost compulsory) guilty plea.

In a huge list of lese majeste cases – about 30 by mid-March 2015 – associated with the punishment and destruction of family and associates of Srirasmi, the third wife of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, now thrown out of the family, even the thin notions of justice and law associated with the lese majeste law appear jettisoned.

The most recent case saw Ekkachai, aged 28, indicted on 11 March 2015 and sentenced a day later. Prosecutors indicted him as a relative of convicted former Central Investigation Bureau chief Pongpat Chayapan for insulting the monarchy and demanding bribes. Ekkachai had been arrested on 3 February 2015, and claimed to be one Srirasmi’s relatives. If he is related to Pongpat, then he is a relative by blood or marriage.

His crime was that he allegedly talked Banterng Naemeesaen, 73, into handing over an initial payment of 1.3 million baht for Ekkachai to use his influence to get Banterng’s son Paitoon off drug charges. As many Thais do, Banterng believed that this powerful connection would aid his son’s case. Corruption in high places is well known, and the higher placed or connected the corrupt person offering “help,” the more likely that illegal “influence” can win out. Forget law and rules, it is connections and power that count.

The 1.3 million baht was delivered to Ekkachai but Paitoon was not bailed and eventually received a prison sentence from the Ratchaburi Provincial Court. The lese majeste in the case seems to involve convincing those paying for influence that Ekkachai was close to the so-called royal institution.

As is so often the case, police claim that Ekkachai confessed during a police interrogation. He was indicted on lese majeste and weapons charges. There was no bail and for the usual reasons.

Only a day after indictment, Ekkachai was back in court to enter a plea. When he dis, he was promptly sentenced to 10 years imprisonment without suspension for lese majeste, illegally demanding and taking a bribe and having weapons and ammunition in his possession illegally. The term was halved because he pleaded guilty (as seems required in Srirasmi/Pongpat/Vajiralongkorn-related cases).

These cases involving Srirasmi/Pongpat/Vajiralongkorn are going through the courts so rapidly that Thailand’s justice system appears more like a feudal court than anything resembling a modern judicial and political system.

Media accounts of Ekkachai’s case:

Prachatai, 13 March 2015: “Man claiming to be relative of ex-royal consort sentenced to 5 years in jail for lèse majesté

Bangkok Post, 12 March 2015: “Man jailed 5 years for lese majeste

Bangkok Post, 11 March 2015: “Pongpat kin indicted on lese majeste

Khaosod, 4 February 2015: “CIB Scandal: 28-Year-Old Arrested For Flaunting Royal Connection