In an earlier post, PPT commented on the likelihood of another lese majeste charge against former elected premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
Khaosod reports that General Udomdej Sitabutr, the Army commander and a member of the military junta, “has charged former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra with lese majeste for allegedly defaming the monarchy in a recent interview with a foreign news agency.”
Due to the severe application of Thailand’s lese majeste law, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison for insulting the monarchy, Khaosod English is unable to publish Thakin’s comments in full.
As noted in our earlier post, Khaosod found it necessary to withdraw an earlier story on Thaksin’s speech.
An Army spokesman claimed the military has a “duty to protect the institutions of the Nation, Religion, and Monarchy…. Whenever someone insults any of the institutions, we have to take action, otherwise we may be guilty of dereliction of duty.”
That spokesman then went on to compare lese majeste with murder:
Thai People know that if they violate the laws, they will punished. If they still do it, it means that they intend to commit the crime, and they have to accept punishment. It’s like shooting someone dead. They have to answer for the crime, because they know it’s illegal.
At the same time the spokesman “warned Thai media agencies not to report the remarks Thaksin made in the interview.”
Khaosod also points out that the Army is a “staunch ally of the monarchy” and that it “has previously filed several lese majeste charges against members of the public.” The report mentions its charges against Darunee Charnchoensilpakul in 2008. She remains in prison. Also mentioned are Army charges against exiled historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul.
Update 1: Meanwhile, the man who led the illegal 2014 military coup that overthrew the 2007 constitution and ousted an elected and legal government, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, has seen the Criminal Court dismiss a lawsuit filed by activists who accused him “of high treason for staging a coup d’etat against an elected government one year ago.” Of course, Prayuth is guilty and has even admitted that he did wrong. That does not bother the judiciary because the military junta granted itself a legal amnesty “in the interim charter they enacted shortly after the military takeover.”
Update 2: The military junta is seriously ticked off with Thaksin and has decided that he needs to be punished. While a bunch of The Dictator’s minions have stated that there is nothing “political” in its attacks on Thaksin, this is clearly horse manure, and the existential threat against Thaksin is extended to his family and wealth in Thailand. In addition to passports and lese majeste, the regime has decided to remove Thaksin’s old police rank. It has also decided that Yingluck will not be able to use her passport. Clearly, the so-called deals are off until Thaksin “learns” to be silent on monarchy, palace, privy council and military.
Update 3: The punishment of Thaksin, his family and associates continues. The Bangkok Post reports that the “National Anti-Corruption Commission is working on a case against the former premier [Yingluck Shinawatra] and her then-foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul and could have the investigation wrapped up next month…. In June, the NACC will meet to decide whether it will indict the pair or drop the case centred on abuse of authority.” Is this beginning to look like the same tactics used against Srirasmi?
Update 4: The Bangkok Post reports that Thaksin has not been charged with lese majeste but that police are investigating the case. That almost always results in a charge, so there is no real difference. The Army Chief says he’s sued Thaksin for insulting the military. The thin-skinned brass are easily insulted not least because they are used to being obeyed, not least because they have guns and power. We will have another post coming on these events within the next 24 hours.