Another heavy lese majeste sentence

13 12 2013

The royalist elements of the Criminal Court have again demonstrated that the judiciary lives in a feudal world of courts, kings and fear.

It is reported that (we used several reports in making this short post) 51-year-old shopkeeper Kittithon Yamsamai, a red shirt sympathizer, was “sentenced to 10 years in prison for posting two messages deemed defamatory to the royal family in August. On another charge, he was sentenced to three years and four months for possessing an electronic document with remarks that showed an attempt to defame, insult and threaten the King, the Queen, the Heir Apparent and the Regent.”

He was convicted  under the lese majeste law and Computer Crimes Act.

His lawyer said “police seized files in his computer and accused him of preparing to commit a crime.” This is yet another broadening of this political crime.

The lawyer observed: “This means having in your possession a computer with alleged lese majeste remarks that have not yet been disseminated is considered a crime under the lese majeste law. It is an expanded interpretation of the law in an unprecedented way…”.





Lese majeste this week

11 12 2013

Despite the political crisis, the royalist courts continue to prosecute ridiculous lese majeste charges.

The Asian Human Rights Commission reports on one case:

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-154-2013

11 December 2013
———————————————————————
THAILAND: Court to read verdict in freedom of expression case

ISSUES: Freedom of expression, right to fair trial
———————————————————————

Dear friends,

On 11 December 2013, at 9 am in the Bangkok Southern Criminal Court on Sathorn Road, the Supreme Court verdict will be read in the case of Bantit (last name withheld), charged with violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code in Black Case No. 725/2548 (Red Case No. 1483/2549), will be read. The reading of the verdict, which had been scheduled initially for September 2013, was postponed due to illness of the defendant. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) urges all concerned persons to attend the court as observers, and calls on other interested persons to follow the case closely.

CASE NARRATIVE:

Bantit (last name withheld) is a 73-year-old writer and translator of over 30 books who has been accused of violating Article 112, the measure in the Thai Criminal Code that stipulates that, “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished (with) imprisonment of three to fifteen years.” His case is a clear example of the use of Article 112 to constrict freedom of information and contribute to the creation of a climate of fear.

During an academic seminar on 22 September 2003, Bantit Aneeya made comments and distributed leaflets containing his opinions and ideas. Subsequently, General Wassana Phermlarp, a former member of the Election Commission and General Secretary of the Anti-Money Laundering Office, filed charges with the police accusing his speech and leaflets of containing material that defamed the monarchy.

In March 2006, the Court of First Instance judged Bantit to be guilty and sentenced him to four years in prison. However, the Court chose to suspend this sentence due to his claim of schizophrenia. In 2009, the Appeal Court reversed the suspension of the sentence on the basis that Bantit was aware of the illegality of his actions and sentenced him to two years and eight months in prison. Unlike many other Article 112 cases, throughout the appeal process, Bantit has been permitted bail by the Appeal Court. This decision by the Supreme Court could then result in Bantit being forced to serve a prison term for his ideas.

Khaosod reports on this case and two others in the courts this week. In addition to Bundith’s case, it notes that on 12 December, the Criminal Court “will decide the case in which Mr. Kittithon (surname withheld), a 51 year old retail shop owner in Samut Prakarn province, is accused of posting contents on internet that insult the monarchy.”

PPT has not hear of this case previously. Kittithon was reportedly “arrested at his home on 30 August by dozens of police officers who also raided his house…”. The case is interesting because the police claim they found “materials defaming members of the Thai royal family stored by Mr. Kittithon in his computer.” The prosecutor concluded and told the court that he “intended to post these materials on the internet later.”

In other words, this is supposition. However, as in many lese majeste cases, the defendant is said to have “confessed.”

The third case is to be heard on 13 December in Chiang Mai. It involves Mr. Asawin (surname withheld) who is “alleged of claiming the name of His Majesty the King in business dealing.” Asawin contests the charge, claiming that “he has been falsely implicated by rival business owners.”

With the monarchy in decline, the demands for enforcing lese majeste expand.

Meanwhile, some of the politically inept in the Puea Thai Party are trying to use lese majeste against their opponents:

Pheu Thai Party spokesman has accused the leader of the anti-government protests of disrespecting the monarchy in his campaign to unseat Prime Minister Yingluck.

In a press conference, Mr. Prompong Nopparit criticised the secretary-general of People′s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King as Head of State (PCAD), Mr. Suthep Thaugsuban, for refusing to stop his protests even though the Prime Minister has already dissolved the parliament and called new election.

Again, PPT has to question the political judgement of such dopey politics. Have people like Prompong learned nothing over the past decade? This is dumb politics, politically regressive, and the stuff of Puea Thai’s opponents. Prompong should be ashamed of himself.








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