He was convicted on 20 December 2016 and sentenced to 9 years, reduced by a third. Later, on 10 October 2016, he was sentenced to an additional 8 years on a second lese majeste charge associated with these posts, deemed defamatory of the king.
The Technology Crime Suppression Division police arrested Piya in Bangkok and used the draconian and feudal lese majeste and the Computer Crimes Act against him.
As is common in royalist Thailand, it was a bunch of lese majeste vigilantes from Nan and Nakhon Pathom who made the complaint in mid-2013.
Piya was said to have used the Facebook profile of Pongsathorn Bantorn. The police claim Piya, aged 46 and a computer programmer, admitted his guilt while under interrogation. Piya denied the charges. In fact, during the deposition hearing at the Criminal Court he claimed that the account was not his and that it was a fake account using his publicly available profile photo.
The court allowed a secret trial and 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, Piya claims that he never participated in any political demonstrations and said that he had no interest in politics.
The second case was heard at the criminal court. The 48 year-old programmer now faces 14 years in jail. Piya stated that he would appeal.
On 27 April 2017, the Appeal Court confirmed the verdict of the Court of First Instance.
Media accounts of Piya’s case:
Prachatai,27 April 2016: “Man receives 6 years jail term for royal defamation”
Prachatai, 10 October 2016: “Facebook user gets additional eight years for lèse majesté”
Prachatai, 20 January 2016: “Facebook user gets 6 years imprisonment for lèse majesté”
Prachatai, 26 May 2015: “Criminal court holds preliminary hearing of lèse majesté suspect in camera”
Prachatai, 9 March 2015: “Programmer suspect denies lese majeste charges at court”
Prachatai, 12 December 2014: “Police arrest man for lèse majesté on Facebook”