“Bento” is a name attributed to a Prachatai web board poster who was accused of and charged with lese majeste and offenses under Section 14 of the 2007 Computer Crimes Act for posts at that board, apparently in 2008. She was arrested on 30 January 2009 and was bailed after 10 days.
The case has remained murky over several years. We do know that the case was important for evidence given at the trial of Chiranuch Premchaiporn in 2011-12. At times, Prachatai referred to Noppawan Tangudomsuk as Bento. In one instance, the court heard that “a Prachatai poster known as ‘Bento’, the only one to be prosecuted although police have identified the posters of the remaining nine comments with which Chiranuch is charged. Noppawan […] was acquitted of lèse majesté. The witness noted that ‘Bento’’s name had simply been replaced with Chiranuch’s in prosecution charge documents. He noted dryly that the message not deleted by Prachatai’s webmaster stayed up for 20 days, unnoticed not only by MICT censors but by other users of Prachatai’s forum.”
Noppawan was alleged to have posted messages offensive to the queen and the crown prince on the Prachatai web board in 2008.
The Criminal Court acquitted the 28 year-old woman on 31 January 2011, as the evidence was inconclusive. According to the court, investigators found that although the defendant’s computer had information pertaining to Prachatai, no evidence was found to show that the messages had been posted through that computer and she had no opportunity to delete data from the computer. No witness could confirm that the defendant posted any of the claimed messages.
The Appeal Court in October 2013 overturned the decision of the Court of First Instance and sentenced Noppawan to five years in prison. She appealed and was released on bail.
On 11 September 2015, the Bento story returned, with the Supreme Court issuing an arrest warrant for Noppawan when she failed to appear in court to hear the verdict in her case. Her father appeared at the court and stated that he does not know where his daughter is and is unable to contact her.
On 20 October 2015 the Supreme the Court dismissed charges against her, again citing inconclusive evidence.
Media accounts of Bento’s case:
Prachatai, 20 October 2015: “Woman acquitted of lèse majesté for posting messages on Prachatai”
Prachatai, 11 September 2015: “Woman wanted for allegedly posting lèse majesté on web forum”
International Business Times, 3 October 2013: Touchy Royals: Anti-Monarchy Comment Gets Thai Woman 5 Years in Jail
Firstpost, 3 October 2013: Thai woman jailed for 5 years for anti-royal web post
Radio Australia, 3 October 2013: Thai woman jailed for five years over royal insult
The Irish Independent, 2 October 2013: Thai woman jailed for five years over web insults to monarchy
Bangkok Post, 2 October 2013: Woman gets 5 years for lese majeste
P.M. News Nigeria, 2 October 2013: Thailand: Woman jailed for five years for insulting royals
Prachatai, 22 September 2011: “Day Eleven – Free speech on trial on Thailand”
Prachatai, 20 September 2011: “Day Ten – Free speech on trial in Thailand”
Prachatai, 1 September 2011: “Day Six: Free speech on trial in Thailand”
Prachatai, 31 January 2011: “Lèse majesté case against Prachatai poster dropped“