All in the (lese majeste) family

14 03 2015

There are so many lese majeste cases in the courts at present that we at PPT are not sure we are catching and publicizing all of them.

In recent days, court verdicts are coming within days of charges being laid. Because so many of these are associated with the punishment and destruction of family and associates of Srirasmi, the third wife of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn now thrown out of the family, we believe that even the thin notions of justice and law associated with the lese majeste law are jettisoned.

We have no soft spot for any royal or their associated gangs, but this does look like a personalized purge camouflaged as lese majeste. We cannot even think of a similar situation during the 20th or 21st centuries.

The most recent case was reported in the Bangkok Post. That report stated that on 11 March 2015, the prosecutors indicted a relative of convicted former Central Investigation Bureau chief Pongpat Chayapan for insulting the monarchy and demanding bribes.” Prachatai reports that Ekkachai Ployhin, aged 28, had been arrested on 3 February 2015, claimed to be one Srirasmi’s relatives. If he is related to Pongpat, then he is a relative by blood or marriage.

His crime was that he “allegedly talk[ed] Banterng Naemeesaen, 73, into handing over [an initial payment of] 1.3 million baht for him to use his influence to get Mr Banterng’s son Paitoon off serious drug charges…”. That was on 12 December 2008. Yes, 2008. Claiming to be “the nephew of Her Royal Highness Princess Srirasm, now officially known as Thanphuying Srirasmi Suwadee, [he] demanded two million baht in order to clear Paitoon.”

As many Thais do, the Bangkok Post reported that Banterng believed that this powerful connection would aid his son’s case. Corruption in high places is known, and the higher placed or connected the corrupt person offering “help,” the more likely that illegal “influence” can win out. Forget law and rules, it is connections and power that count.

The initial 1.3 million baht was delivered to Ekkachai but “Paitoon was not bailed and eventually received a prison sentence from the Ratchaburi Provincial Court.” The lese majeste in the case seems to involve convincing those paying for influence that Ekkachai “was close to the royal institution…”.

As is so often the case, police claim that Ekkachai “confessed to the accusations during a police interrogation.” He was indicted on lese majeste and weapons charges. There was no bail and for the usual reasons. (Ho hum, so very predictable.)

Only a day after indictment, Ekkachai was “ordered to appear for arraignment in the Criminal Court … to enter a plea.” He was then promptly sentenced to “10 years imprisonment without suspension after finding him guilty of lese majeste, illegally demanding and taking a bribe and having weapons and ammunition in his possession illegally.” The term was halved because he pleaded guilty (as seems required in Srirasmi/Pongpat/Vajiralongkorn-related cases).

These cases involving Srirasmi/Pongpat/Vajiralongkorn are going through the courts so rapidly that Thailand’s justice system appears more like a feudal court than anything resembling a modern judicial and political system.

 





19 and still counting

3 02 2015

The lese majeste/palace house-cleaning continues. It is getting very difficult to keep up with the huge number of lese majeste reports and charges.

The most recent case is reported at Prachatai and the Bangkok Post which both report that police have arrested another relative of former police senior officer Pongpat Chayapan. Pongpat has already been sentenced on lese majeste charges.

Police arrested Ekkachai Ployhin on Tuesday. They accused him of claiming “connections with the monarchy in helping a suspect in illicit drug case out of jail.”

It is alleged that in December 2008, Ekkachai claimed to be the nephew of Pol Lt Gen Pongpat and to have links to the monarchy – they mean the crown prince – and demanded 1.3 million baht to solve a drug case.

Prachatai states that following Pongpat’s arrest, “nearly 30 more suspects were arrested for associating with the monarchy-citing network of him, at least 19 of whom have now been charged with lèse majesté.”