Red shirt leader Wuthipong Kachathamakul or Ko Tee (Kachathamakul (วุฒิพงศ์ กชธรรมคุณ หรือ โกตี๋) was reported as being investigated on lese majeste charges arising from the interview he does in a US-based news documentary at VICE, called Bangkok Rising.
As might be expected, the clip is being blocked as much as possible in Thailand: “The TCSD [Technology Crime Suppression Division] was instructed to contact the Information and Communication Technology Ministry to block access to the clip…”. Worse, the police have been threatening and have “warned the public not to share the video clip as those doing so will also be subject to punishment under Section 112. Those found guilty are liable for a three- to 15-year jail term.”
The Bangkok Post reports that “Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has ordered police to charge Pathum Thani-based red-shirt leader … Ko Tee, for an alleged lese majeste offence committed in an interview with a foreign journalist,” meaning the VICE interview.
The Post reports that a “video clip was circulated online showing the interview in which Mr Wuthipong made the offensive remark about the monarchy.” In fact, for PPT, it was hardly offensive. Ko Tee simply stated a matter of fact/conjecture [readers choose] that has been spoken of for about a decade.
That royalists find his statement about the power of the palace and the king behind the various anti-democratic movements from PAD to be offensive is because this is meant to be unsayable in public. That he names his enemy is both courageous and frank, but immediately allows the royalists to paint the government and red shirts as anti-monarchy.
The Post reports that “Prime Minister’s secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva said Wednesday the premier had ordered him to submit a letter to national police chief Adul Saengsingkaew calling for action against Mr Wuthipong.” Of course, the police have sprung into action on Article 112.
Pol Gen Adul has been “informed by the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) that Mr Wuthipong’s remark in the clip shared on YouTube violates Section 112 on lese majeste in the Criminal Code.” As in most lese majeste cases, the conviction is already in place.
Not unexpectedly the leader of the failed monarchist party known as the Democrat Party Abhisit Vejjajiva, acting like a toady prefect running to the headmaster, “has also instructed the party’s legal team to file a complaint against Mr Wuthipong for lese majeste…”. The royalist party apparently lodged lese majeste complaints in all provinces.
The Army boss, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who has had long running verbal spats with Ko Tee, met police chief Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew and “other senior government and security leaders…. They agreed on the need to take action against Wuthipong Kachathamkul, alias Ko Tee…”. It seems likely that Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda was also involved.
Police quickly gained an arrest warrant. The court that approved the warrant claimed “it had thoroughly considered the evidence submitted by the Crime Suppression Division…”. The police reckon they have a “substantial case…”. As in most lese majeste cases, the evidence usually doesn’t matter in the slightest.
Ko Tee took off in the early months of 2014 and has evaded arrest since then. He is believed to be in Cambodia. Remarkably, in March 2017, police claimed to have found a stash of war weapons at his house.
Media accounts of Ko Tee’s case:
Bangkok Post, 18 March 2017: “Explosives, firearms seized at red-shirt house”
Khaosod, 7 May 2014: “Police Raid Lese Majeste Fugitive’s Radio Station”
Khaosod, 15 April 2014: “Airport On Alert For Lese Majeste Suspects”
Bangkok Post, 11 April 2014: “Arrest warrant out for Ko Tee”
Bangkok Post, 11 April 2014: “Court approves Ko Tee warrant”
Bangkok Post, 10 April 2014: “Adul promises action on Ko Tee”
Bangkok Post, 10 April 2014: “Ko Tee faces lese majeste arrest”
Prachatai, 9 April 2014: “Hardcore red Kotee target of lèse majesté charge”
Khaosod, 9 April 2014: “PM Orders Inquiry Over Ko Tee’s Monarchy Remark”
ThaiPBS, 9 April 2014: “Democrat party to sue Ko Tee for alleged lese majeste throughout the country“