On 13 May 2014 it was reported that the “Judge Advocate General’s Office” had made a complaint to police, accusing former Puea Thai MP for Surin and red shirt leader Prasit Chaisisa (or Chaisrisa) of committing lese majeste.
It turned out that this “Office” was actually the Internal Security Operations Command, a leftover from the Cold War, but still with considerable power. Nominally chaired by the prime minister, it is an arm of the military. The complaint was lodged by the director of ISOC’s “law and human rights unit,” which is ironic as the lese majeste law is a black spot of human rights in Thailand and the military’s human rights record is bleak.
The accusation was that Prasit made a speech at the Imperial Lat Phrao shopping mall on 7 May 2014 with remarks “which were deemed against the Monarchy in accordance with Article 112 of the Criminal Code.” Another report states that Prasit referred to “the Monarchy in a derogatory way, which clearly showed intentions to defame His Majesty the King.”
A video clip of Prasit’s speech was said to have resulted in “a flood of criticisms.”
Back in April 2011, Prasit was one of the Bangkok 19, all red shirt leaders, who were summoned by the political police at the Department of Special Investigation to acknowledge cases of lese majeste.
On 29 May 2014, military official from Surin delivered Prasit to police in Bangkok. Prasit reported to the Surin Army Area on May 24 after being summoned by the military junta. Prasit said he would fight the case and would seek bail. Of course, bail has been denied. Prasit was paraded from prison to the court on 29 September 2014. There he denied charges of insulting the monarchy.
Initially it was reported that the former MP will not face court and witnesses until 20 February 2015. In other words, he will have been held in jail without bail for nine months before the trial really gets underway. These long detentions without adequate access to lawyers due to the refusal of bail, amounts to inhumane treatment.
In a surprise move, on 27 October, Prasit suddenly changed his plea to guilty. He was convicted on 3 December 2014.
The Criminal Court ruled that remarks he delivered in a 7 May speech, “Stop Overthrowing Democracy,” at Imperial World Lat Phrao department store was considered to have insulted the monarchy.
He was sentenced to 5 years, reduced to 2.5 years in prison, reduced because he confessed. The court refused to suspend the jail term.
Prasit appealed but the court refused bail and he remained in jail pending appeal.
Meanwhile, his name was on the royal pardon decree in 2015 — a list of well-behaved convicts receiving a royal pardon each year. This reduced his jail time to two years, one month and 22 days. However, Prasit also sought an individual royal pardon. His personal appeal was approved and sent to the prison on 25 March 2016. He had served one year, 10 months and one day in total.
Media reports of Prasit’s case:
Bangkok Post, 26 March 2015: “Ja Prasit freed after 22 months”
Bangkok Post, 3 December 2014: “Ex-MP gets 2.5 yrs for lese majeste”
Khaosod, 27 October 2014: “Ex-Pheu Thai MP Confesses to Lese Majeste”
Bangkok Post, 29 September 2014: “Ex-MP denies lese majeste charges”
Bangkok Post, 29 May 2014: “Former PT MP handed over to police”
Bangkok Post, 13 May 2014: “Ex-MP accused of lese majeste”
NNT, 13 May 2014: “ISOC to prosecute former Pheu Thai MP on lese-majeste”
ThaiPBS, 11 May 2014: “Ex-Pheu Thai MP Prasit Chaisrisa accused of committing lese majeste“