Tom Dundee

On 30 August 2010, it was reported that the rabidly royalist group Network of Volunteer Citizens to Protect the Monarchy on Facebook met with Tharit Pengdit, the then Director of  Department of Special Investigation to demand an investigation of country and blues singer Tom Dundee (Thanat Thanawatcharanon) for speaking at a red-shirt rally in a manner that they claimed constituted lese majeste. He was charged following the 2014 military coup.

On 1 June 2016, after agreeing to plead guilty, Tom was sentenced to a total of 20 years imprisonment, reduced to 10 years and 10 months, on two counts of lese majeste, each heard in a different court.

His cases began when notorious royalist Boworn Yasinthorn, President of the Network of Volunteer Citizens to Protect the Monarchy on Facebook met Tharit Pengdit, Director-General of DSI, urging him to prosecute Tom for his speech at a red shirt rally in Ratchaburi in 2013. The royalist group submitted a clip of Tom’s speech which had been posted at YouTube as evidence. Tharit and DSI accepted the case.

Here’s video of Tom as a performer.

Most of Tom’s case and trial was conducted very quietly, with long delays as Tom seems to have languished in jail.

It then became clear that Tom faced two cases, on before a civil court and the other in a military court. In the first case, he was accused of defaming the monarchy in speeches at red shirt rallies, in November 2013. The second case related to videos uploaded and later deleted. Aspects of his cases were heard in-camera.

Tom Dundee

Following the 2014 coup, Tom reappeared in court when he attended a military court to hear witnesses and evidence in one of his cases. He denied all charges and stated that he would defend the case.

Both cases dragged on. Royalists in the justice system demand that those who refuse to plead guilty are punished with long trials and long periods sitting in jail. In late May 2016, it was reported that Tom, now 58, had acquiesced and agreed to plead guilty. Tom is quoted as saying that “he chose to plead guilty because he has been imprisoned for almost two years and he just wants to case to end as soon as possible in order to request for a royal pardon.”

Pleading guilty and begging for a royal pardon are considered by royalists as significant in re-establishing the sacrality of the damaged royal reputation by demeaning the person seeking a pardon and agreeing to plead guilty.

In a twist to Tom’s cases, in January 2018, a third lese majeste charge was brought against him. He was dragged off to Ratchaburi to hear the charges. Because no notice and no information was provided, he appeared without lawyers.

A fourth case against Tom was dismissed by the Bangkok Criminal Court on 29 March 2018, for lack of evidence. Tom was accused of comparing the royal families of Thailand and Denmark, noting that in Denmark, traffic isn’t stopped for royals. Ultra-royalists were outraged and brought accusations to police, leading to a lese majeste charge. Tom had agreed to plead guilty but the court threw out the prosecution case because no evidence was presented. (The prosecution may appeal.)

The harassment and punishment of Tom has a lot to do with his red shirt connections with the militant republican Ko Tee.

Media reports:

Prachatai, 29 March 2018: “Court dismisses royal defamation charge against Tom Dundee

Prachatai, 25 January 2018: “Red-shirt singer faces third lèse majesté charge

Prachatai, 11 July 2016: “Well-known red shirt singer gets extra-years in prison for lèse majesté

Khaosod: 1 June 2016: “Singer Gets 7 Years for Lese Majeste, Must Write ‘Reconciliation Song’

Reuters, 1 June 2016: “Thailand jails country singer for seven years in royal insult case

Prachatai, 30 May 2016: “Well known red shirt singer pleads guilty to lèse majesté charge

Prachatai, 23 June 2015: “Tom Dundee: French-educated country singer-turned-lèse majesté prisoner

Prachatai, 17 September 2014: “ทอม ดันดี: จดหมายระบายความในใจ-การถูกจับกุม

Prachatai, 31 August 2010: “Royalist group on Facebook urges DSI to prosecute a Thai singer for lèse majesté”

12 responses

13 10 2010
Lese majeste and yellow shirt pressure « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] group is responsible for lese majeste complaints against singer Tom Dundee and an earlier complaint lodged a complaint with Air Chief Marshal Naphreuk Manthajit, chair of a […]

9 07 2014
Tom Dundee charged with lese majeste | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] reports that singer and red shirt activist Tom Dundee (Thanat Thanawatcharanon) has been charged with lese […]

23 06 2015
Update on Tom Dundee’s lese majeste case | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] We are very grateful to Prachatai for its detailed report on Tom Dundee’s lese majeste case. […]

23 06 2015
Update on Tom Dundee’s lese majeste case | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] We are very grateful to Prachatai for its detailed report on Tom Dundee’s lese majeste case. […]

1 06 2016
Tom Dundee gets 15 years for lese majeste | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] couple of days ago we posted on the lese majeste case against singer Tom Dundee (Thanat Thanawatcharanon), 58, who had been on trial for almost two years and had spent 11 months […]

1 06 2016
Tom Dundee gets 15 years for lese majeste | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] couple of days ago we posted on the lese majeste case against singer Tom Dundee (Thanat Thanawatcharanon), 58, who had been on trial for almost two years and had spent 11 months […]

11 07 2016
Tom Dundee gets another 5 years on lese majeste | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] reports that a military court has sentenced singer Tom Dundee (Thanat Thanawatcharanon) to 5 years in jail for lese majeste. The prison term was reduced by a […]

11 07 2016
Tom Dundee gets another 5 years on lese majeste | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] reports that a military court has sentenced singer Tom Dundee (Thanat Thanawatcharanon) to 5 years in jail for lese majeste. The prison term was reduced by a […]

14 02 2018
Piling on lese majeste cases | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] cases at a rate of one to two a week since 2014. However, in the case of singer and red-shirt Tom Dundee (Thanat Thanawatcharanon), the regime is piling case up against […]

14 02 2018
Piling on lese majeste cases | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] cases at a rate of one to two a week since 2014. However, in the case of singer and red-shirt Tom Dundee (Thanat Thanawatcharanon), the regime is piling case up against […]

29 03 2018
Tom Dundee beats one lese majeste charge | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] reports that Tom Dundee (Thanat Thanawatcharanon) has beaten his latest lese majeste […]

29 03 2018
Tom Dundee beats one lese majeste charge | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] reports that Tom Dundee (Thanat Thanawatcharanon) has beaten his latest lese majeste […]