Sao Saengmuang

112Sao Saengmuang was arrested and accused of lese majeste sometime in May 2015.

His trial before a military court began on 9 February 2017.

A lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) had requested that the suspect not be indicted due to his mental illness. However, military prosecutors went ahead after psychiatrists from the Galya Rajanagarindra Institute concluded in December 2015 that Sao is fit to stand trial in a military court.

A Thai Lue from Chiang Rai, Sao was arrested following a complaint by staff of the Supreme Court where he had tried to make a complaint against former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra alleging that Thaksin had misallocated the property of the then king. Sao also claimed to be able to contact Thaksin by telepathy through a TV and maintains that his claims about the king’s property are true.

The military prosecutors decided to use lese majeste because Sao’s complaint contained references to the monarchy and were defamatory of the king.

The military court has scheduled the next trial on the case on 25 May 2017. Sao has been in custody or hospital since 28 May 2015.

This is one of several cases where the mentally ill have been charged and/or convicted of lese majeste.

Media accounts of Sao’s case:

Prachatai, 10 February 2017: “Military court tries mentally ill lèse majesté suspect

Prachatai, 21 June 2016: “Lèse majesté suspect with mental illness vows to fight his case

Prachatai, 22 April 2016: “Mentally ill ethnic minority member indicted for lèse majesté

Prachatai, 5 February 2016: “Doctors say lèse majesté suspect with mental illness can face trial

Prachatai, 21 August 2015: “Thai Police send lèse majesté suspect to psychiatric hospital before indictment