Another lese majeste casualty

15 04 2020

In a sad “end” to a lese majeste case that we don’t recall posting on previously, Prachatai reports that “Nathee (family name withheld), who was on bail pending an appeal against a conviction for expressing opinions about King Rama IX on Facebook, was found dead in a canal on 13 April after succeeding in his third suicide attempt.”

We have searched our files of cases pending and convictions and cannot locate this case. But, then, there have been hundreds and sometimes names change in reporting.

Reportedly mentally ill, Nathee took his life on 12 April.

Aged just 28 when arrested in September 2018, he was accused, charged with lese majeste, and eventually convicted over two Facebook posts poking fun at the dead king:

The first expressed his own opinion of wanting to teach King Rama IX about being enthusiastic about a ‘glass half-full’. The second made a joke out of the license plate number of the late King’s car.

While the first reference did not come from the king, the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary said that using the term could “cause misunderstanding to people.”

Later, following direction by King Vajiralongkorn, “the charges were changed to violations of the Computer Crime Act and Article 116 of the Criminal Code on sedition.”

In December, 2019, Nathee was found guilty of computer crimes and received 3 years in prison, reduced to 2 years for “useful testimony.”

His defense, that he was mentally ill and “incapable of controlling himself and unaware that he was violating the law” made no impact on the royalist criminal court.

The sedition charge was rejected “as Nathee’s act did not cause any unrest.” However, the ruling on computer crimes was:

[He] was guilty of uploading data which is an offence related to national security. The posts that were made public were likely to cause damage to the institution of the monarchy which is highly respected by the people, and amounted an offence against national security.

Natthee’s representatives appealed and he was on bail pending an appeal when he died.

Before the court, Nathee stated he was bipolar and “claimed that he would be in a normal state of mind until he surfed the net. He would then become angry and uncontrollable, feeling that his nervous system was connected to the internet signal.” He added that “he thought of himself as a Buddha and that his body was dominated by an extra-terrestrial being.”

In support, the court was told that “doctors had diagnosed Nathee with a mental disorder and that treatment would take a long time. His father also testified that Nathee had been under treatment with Decha Hospital since before he committed the offence.”

Nathee was not the first person with mental illness charged or convicted under laws used to “protect” the monarchy.

PPT can think of several other cases. In mid-2012, Thitinant Kaewchantranont was accused of lese majeste and convicted on 21 May 2014. Tanet Nonthakot was arrested on 2 July 2014 and accused of lese majeste, and convicted on 25 June 2015. In Chiang Rai, on 6 August 2015, Samak Panthe, a 48 year-old was dragged off to jail. In a Prachatai report, it was revealed that on 20 April 2016 military prosecutors have indicted Sao {real name withheld] on lese majeste charges.

Darunee, Pornthip and Thitinant released

27 08 2016

Some good news. As several sites and sources, including the Bangkok Post, it has been reported that Daranee Charnchoensilpakul (Da Torpedo), Pornthip Munkong (Golf) and Thitinant Kaewchantranont have been released from prison. Each was imprisoned for lese majeste.

Darunee was initially convicted and jailed for 18 years on lese majeste. Her appeal was upheld, but she was held in jail until a new trial was held. That trial again found her guilty and sentenced to 15 years. She was arrested on 22 July 2008 after delivering an exceptionally strong 30-minute speech denouncing the 2006 coup and the monarchy. She served more than eight years.

Pornthip was a 24 year-old activist when arrested on 15 August 2014 and charged with lese majeste. She was convicted on 23 February 2015. Pornthip, along with a separately arrested and detained activist, Patiwat Saraiyaem, for their involvement in a political play, The Wolf Bride (เจ้าสาวหมาป่า), about a fictional monarch and kingdom. She was denied bail several times. She eventually entered guilty please on lese majeste charges and was sentenced to 5 years, reduced by half for the guilty plea. She served just over two years.

Thitinant was arrested on 17 July 2012, accused of lese majeste. The details of her case and how and where she was held in not clear. Dating back to 2003, the New Zealand resident had been found to suffer mental illness. This was confirmed by court doctors. She was initially found guilty on 21 May 2014, and sentenced her to two years in jail. The prison term was commuted to one year for her confession. The jail term could be suspended for three years. This suspension was overturned by the Appeals Court sentenced Thitinant to jail for a year. It is not clear how long she was detained in prisons and hospitals.

It is good that these women have been released. None of them should have been in jail.

No one is safe

12 05 2015

On 21 May 2014, Thitinan Kaewchantranont was found guilty of lese majeste. Diagnosed with mental illness, she was accused of kicking a portrait of the king. She was detained from about the time of her arrest in July 2012. Although some reports say she was bailed the courts say she has been held in a psychiatric hospital. She is now 65 years old.

The court admitted that it “was convinced by doctors who provided her treatment that the woman was suffering from bipolar disorder.” But the royalist court still convicted her. There can be no excuse for lese majeste. Indeed the court initially sentenced her to two years in jail, with the prison term commuted to one year due to her confession.” Because of her mental illness, the court suspended her sentence for three years.

In a report from Prachatai today, we learn that the Appeals Court sentenced Thitinan “to jail for a year without suspension for stepping on image of [the king].”

The Appeal Court “decided not to suspend the jail term. It reasoned [that seems the wrong word in this case] that the defendant’s claim of having a mental deficiency and being unaware when committing the crime was unsound. Since the crime is severe and the defendant was partly aware when committing the crime, the court decided not to suspend the jail term.”

In fact, the claim to mental illness was not the defendant’s but was a diagnosis made by a government psychiatrist.

Thitinan’s lawyers got bail for her and she must now take the case to the Supreme Court.

Prachatai states that, “According to Thai law, defendants do not have to serve jail terms if they are mentally deficient when committing a crime.”

Law and lese majeste are strange bedfellows. No one is safe, not even the mentally ill.

NZ resident convicted of lese majeste

21 05 2014

Martial law? Not a problem for the courts that keep processing scandalously bizarre lese majeste cases.

The Bangkok Post reports that the Criminal Court has sentenced New Zealand resident and Thai citizen Thitinant Kaewchantranont “to one year’s imprisonment, suspended for three years, after finding her guilty of lese majeste.” Thitinant is 65 years old.

She was “found to have made an offensive gesture to an image of … the King outside the Constitutional Court on July 13, 2012, before the court delivered its ruling on the constitutionality of a charter amendment bill.”

In other words, she is accused of something that would be pretty much normal in a country where the monarchy is not revered as the lynchpin of a sclerotic political and economic system.

The court admit that it “was convinced by doctors who provided her treatment that the woman was sufferring from bipolar disorder.”Indeed, Thitinant, who was arrested on 14 July 2012, has been “detained at the Galaya Rajanagarindra Institute during the trial.” That’s a psychiatric hospital.

But the royalist court still convicted her. There can be no excuse for treating the monarchy in a normal manner.

Indeed the dolts at the court “initially sentenced her to two years in jail. The prison term was commuted to one year due to her confession.” It always is, because almost no one can have a defense on this political charge. All that counts is contrition and apparent acceptance of the greatness of the monarchy.

At least the court displayed a tiny degree of judicial and human good sense by accepting that, although “she is mentally ill,” the jail term could be suspended for three years.

There is no end to the cruelty of the courts on lese majeste.

Thailand’s own holy inquisition

15 03 2014

In July 2012, a gang of ultra-royalist vigilantes stormed the international airport to prevent a “New Zealand-resident Thai woman” who they accused of a lese majeste offence from leaving on a to Auckland. Some 200 extremists arrived at the airport to protest against the possible departure of Thitinant Kaewchantanont.

The royalist extremists charged that the woman had “defiled” a picture of the king using a foot was displayed during a “multi-color” (read ultra-royalist neo-fascist) rally at their Constitutional Court.

Thitinant is said to have “a history of mental illness” – she was apparently diagnosed as “bipolar” in 2003. She was prevented from leaving Thailand because the police had “lodged a lese majeste complaint against her, [and] referred her to Srithanya Hospital in Nonthaburi to see if she is genuinely mentally ill.”

The ultra-royalists at Thai Airways proclaimed that the plane’s captain had pledged to refuse to pilot the aircraft if Thitinant was on board.

By mid-August 2012, Thitinant had been diagnosed as mentally ill by psychiatrists. Astoundingly, at the time it was said that the question for the royalist judiciary was to determine if she was mentally ill at the time of the alleged offense or “partially sane,” which could still mean a conviction.

Finally, on 11 March 2014, the Criminal Court on Tuesday began hearing the case under the draconian lese majeste law.

In the intervening period, Thitinant has been “detained in a mental institute for 45 days and then at the Women’s Correctional Institute in Bangkok for about a month. She later was bailed with a 300,000 baht guarantee.”

The court heard prosecution witnesses from March 11 to 14 and defense witnesses will be heard on 18 March.

As best PPT can determine, Thitinant’s case is the first case of lese majeste that PPT can confirm that has been entirely under the jurisdiction of the Yingluck Shinawatra government. The use of a feudal law against political opponents, including those who are ill, has seen one person die in jail after cruel sentencing. Others have been sentenced to mammoth jail terms for infringements of a law that has many of the hallmarks of the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition.

The Normalization of the Violation of Human Rights in the Name of Protecting the Monarchy

1 09 2013

As usual, the Asian Legal Resource Centre gets it right and PPT can do no better than post their statement. Our only question is the number of known cases in jail (convicted or awaiting trial). Our count is six. In addition, we do not know what has happened in the case of Thitinant Kaewchantanont, who was held in a mental hospital. Nor do we know how many cases there are that remain secret or unreported:

August 30, 2013

Language(s): English only


Twenty-fourth session, Agenda Item 3, General Debate

A written statement submitted by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organisation with general consultative status

THAILAND: The Normalization of the Violation of Human Rights in the Name of Protecting the Monarchy

1. The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) wishes to raise concerns about the normalization of the violation of human rights in the name of protecting the monarchy in Thailand with the Human Rights Council. This statement is the seventh on this topic that the ALRC has submitted to the Council since May 2011. During the seventeenth session of the Council in May 2011, the ALRC highlighted the rise in the legal and unofficial use of Article 112 of the Criminal Code and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act (CCA) to constrict freedom of expression and intimidate citizens critical of the monarchy (A/HRC/17/NGO/27). During the nineteenth session in February 2012, the ALRC detailed some of the threats faced both by those who have expressed critical views of the monarchy, both legal and extralegal, as well as those who have expressed concern about these threats (A/HRC/19/NGO/55). During the twentieth session in June 2012, the ALRC raised concerns about the weak evidentiary basis of convictions made under Article 112 and the CCA (A/HRC/20/NGO/37) and the concerning conditions surrounding the death in prison custody of Amphon Tangnoppakul on 8 May 2012, then serving a 20-year sentence for four alleged violations of Article 112 and the CCA (A/HRC/20/NGO/38). During the twenty-second session in March 2013, the ALRC highlighted the January 2013 conviction under Article 112 of human rights defender and labour rights activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk (A/HRC/22/NGO/44). During the twenty-third session in June 2013, the ALRC emphasized the regularization of the crisis of freedom of expression in Thailand, and noted that constriction of speech had become constitutive of political and social life in Thailand (A/HRC/23/NGO/42).

2. Over the course of the prior six statements, the ALRC first noted with surprise the active use of measures to constrict speech, then tracked the expansion of this use, and finally, the entrenchment of the foreclosure of freedom of speech. The ALRC is again raising the issue of freedom of expression with the Council in order to ensure that the regularization of this threat to human rights does not lead to it being normalized or forgotten. In the statement submitted to the Council in June 2013, the ALRC cautioned that current conditions threatened to normalize the routine denial of bail to individuals awaiting trial and appeal, the provision of substandard medical care in prisons, and the use of secrecy to restrict the openness of trials and public information about ongoing cases. In this statement, the ALRC wishes to alert the Human Rights Council to ongoing developments that lend weight to these concerns and underscore the urgency of addressing the crisis of freedom of expression in Thailand.

3. Article 112 criminalizes criticism of the monarchy and mandates 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.” The 2007 CCA, which was promulgated as part of Thailand’s compliance as a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, has been used to target web editors and websites identified as critical of the monarchy or dissident in other ways. The CCA provides for penalties of up to five years per count in cases which are judged to have involved the dissemination or hosting of information deemed threatening to national security, of which the institution of the monarchy is identified as a key part. While Article 112 has been part of the Criminal Code since the last major revision in 1957, available statistics suggest that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of complaints filed since the 19 September 2006 coup; how often these complaints become formal charges and lead to prosecutions is information that the Government of Thailand has continuously failed to provide up to the present. The CCA has often been used in combination with Article 112 in the four years since its promulgation; similar to the use of Article 112, complete usage information has not been made available by the Government of Thailand. This failure to provide information creates fear and diminishes the space for freedom of expression through the use of secrecy and creation of uncertainty.

4. At present, there are 4 persons known to be serving prison terms for alleged violations of Article 112 and/or the CCA and 1 person behind bars while undergoing trial.

a. Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul was convicted of violations of Article 112 related to 55 minutes of speech and sentenced to 18 years in prison on 28 August 2009. Following examination of her case by the Constitutional Court, her sentenced was reduced to 15 years in December 2011. The Appeal Court upheld her conviction and sentence in May 2013.

b. Surachai Sae Dan (Danwattananusorn) was convicted of a series of violations of Article 112 related to political speeches he made and sentenced to a total of 12.5 years in prison in a series of cases in 2012. He has submitted a request for a royal pardon and is awaiting the outcome.

c. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was convicted of violations of Article 112 related to his work in editing and publishing Voice of Taksin magazine, which was deemed to include two anti-monarchy articles (written by someone else) and sentenced to a total of 11 years in prison on 23 January 2013 (10 years on Article 112-related charges and 1 year related to a prior case). He has submitted an appeal to the Appeal Court and is currently awaiting a decision.

d. Ekachai Hongkangwan was convicted of violations of Article 112 related to selling VCDs of an ABC Australia documentary and copies of WikiLeaks material and sentenced to 3 years and 4 months in prison on 28 March 2013. He has submitted an appeal to the Appeal Court and is currently awaiting a decision.

e. Yutthapoom (last name withheld) has been held in the Bangkok Remand Prison since 19 September 2012 on charges of violating Article 112 following a complaint submitted by his older brother related to a conversation they had while watching television at home. The witness hearings in his case began on 20 August 2013, after he endured 333 days of pre-trial detention.

6. Common to these 5 cases is that the individuals involved have repeatedly been denied bail, always on the grounds that their crimes are too grave a threat to national security to permit even temporary release, despite full cooperation of all parties in investigation and prosecution. Although some individuals were granted bail while awaiting trial, upon conviction they were all denied bail, despite ongoing processes of appeal. This is in contravention to Article 9(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a state party, which specifies: “Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial, at any other stage of the judicial proceedings, and, should occasion arise, for execution of the judgment.”

7. To raise one notable example of the denial of bail, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk (5c above), submitted his 15th request for bail on 24 July 2013. Along with the application, approximately 152,000 USD of property deeds were submitted as security with the request. On 26 July 2013, the Appeal Court denied the request. The justification offered was that as Somyot had been sentenced to a prison term greater than 10 years, if he was released, there was a danger that he might flee. The Appeal Court further noted that, “The actions of the defendant impacted public order and the feelings of the people,” and so his release on bail was not warranted.

8. Bail is routinely granted during trials and after conviction while awaiting appeal in cases of committing violent crimes in Thailand, but routinely denied for cases involving freedom of speech. To offer one example, on 30 July 2012, in Black Case No. 3252/2552, 3466/2552, the Criminal Court found five police officers guilty of brutally murdering Kiettisak Thitboonkrong, age 17, in 2004 as part of the so-called “War on Drugs,” in which close to 3000 people were extrajudicially killed across Thailand. Three of the police offers were found guilty of premeditated murder and hiding a corpse and sentenced to death. One police officer was found guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. One police officer was found guilty of abusing his authority to aid in protecting his subordinates from criminal prosecution and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. All five police officers were granted bail while they appeal their conviction. In all but one of these instances, the police were sentenced to longer prison terms than Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, yet they were granted bail. Given the explanation by the Appeal Court when they denied Somyot’s request that the length of his sentence meant that he might flee and that his crime impacted public order, granting the police officers bail seems strange. In the absence of an explanation from the Court, this collection of actions suggests that constricting dissident speech and protecting the monarchy are more important to the Thai state than ensuring accountability for extrajudicial violence committed against citizens by state actors.

9. The ALRC is gravely concerned about the effects of the ongoing entrenchment of the constriction of freedom of expression on human rights, justice, and the rule of law in Thailand. The frequency of the exercise of the draconian Article 112 and CCA risks the naturalization and normalization of violations of rights and the constriction of speech and political freedom. The ALRC would like to remind the Government of Thailand that under Article 19 of the ICCPR, restrictions on the right to freedom of expression are only permissible under two circumstances: “for respect of the rights or reputations of others” and “for the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.” While measure 112 is classified as a crime against national security within the Criminal Code of Thailand, and this, along with the need to protect the monarchy, is frequently cited by the Government of Thailand when faced with the criticism that the measure is in tension with the ICCPR, a precise explanation of the logic for categorizing the measure as such has not been provided to date. Until this explanation is provided, the constriction of freedom of expression is arbitrary.

10. In view of the above, the Asian Legal Resource Center calls on the UN Human Rights Council to:

  1. Call on the Government of Thailand to release all those convicted or facing charges under Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act. At a minimum, those currently being held should immediately be granted bail while their cases are in the Criminal or Appeal Courts.
  2. Demand that the Government of Thailand revoke Article 112 of the Criminal Code and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act.
  3. Urge the Government of Thailand to allow and support the full exercise of freedom of expression and political freedom, consistent with the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which it is a signatory, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is a state party.
  4. Request the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression to continue ongoing monitoring and research about the brought situation of constriction of rights and individual cases in Thailand; and, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to continue to monitor and report on those cases of persons arbitrarily detained under Article 112.

# # #

About the ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.

Read this online from AHRC

24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council – AHRC

Read this online from ALRC

24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council – ALRC


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Update on lese majeste case against New Zealand citizen

19 08 2012

At Prachatai, there is an update on the case of Thitinant Kaewchantranont (the report is also available as: ตร.ยันหญิงก่อเหตุหมิ่นฯ ยังถูกอายัดตัว แพทย์เผยเป็นโรคจิตจริง เสนอความเห็น พนง.สืบสวนพรุ่งนี้).

The 63 year-old woman, who is a New Zealand citizen, is accused of lese majeste by rabid, neo-fascist yellow shirts, “has been diagnosed as mentally ill by psychiatrists.” Remarkably, though, this is not the end of the legal persecution:

If the accused are found to be permanently mentally ill, having committed the alleged crimes without being able to control themselves, they will probably be acquitted. But, if found to be temporarily mentally ill, they will probably be sentenced to punishment less severe than that prescribed in the law….

In other words, Thitinant could still be convicted and jailed for an act that would hardly raise an eyebrow in most constitutional monarchies around the world.

We would hope that her Embassy would not be cowed by the lese majeste nonsense and will be working tirelessly to return Thitinant to New Zealand. It won’t take much for them to be more pro-active than the U.S. Embassy was in the case of Joe Gordon and the Australians when Harry Nicolaides was jailed.

Thitinant faces lese majeste warrant

27 07 2012

The Bangkok Post reports that a court has approved the issue of a warrant for the arrest 63-year-old New Zealand citizen Thitinant Kaewchantranont. As far as PPT can tell, this is the first lese majeste case that is wholly within the jurisdiction of the Puea Thai government. We also note very limited interest on the part of the international media but see here.

A police panel has reportedly been established to handle the case:

The committee is headed by Pol Maj-Gen Prinya Chansuriya, a deputy metropolitan police chief. Pol Col Charoen Srisasalak, metropolitan police division 2 deputy chief, and investigators from Thung Song Hong police station are also on the panel.

Since 14 July, Thitinant has been detained at the Galaya Rajanagarindra Institute in Bangkok, where she is being assessed for “mental illness.” She is being carefully guarded by police.

What a farce the lese majeste law and its implementation are. We continue to wonder about the sanity of the collective Thai state as it enforces feudal and authoritarian rules.


Ultra-royalists and the new lese majeste case

23 07 2012

In an earlier post PPT had the story of Thitinant Kaewchantanont. She is accused of a lese majeste infraction that has caused police to investigate, Thitinant to be thrown into a hospital for a mental illness assessment and ultra-royalists to spill bucket loads of bile.

The Phuket News has provided some more details of the ultra-royalist reaction to the case.

The notorious yellow-shirted Rak Phuket Club rallied “against improper gestures made by a Thai expat in Bangkok last week by filing a letter of complaint to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung…”. The reason for this is that the neo-fascist group wants to ensure that Thitinant is locked up, so its “president” Boonsupa Tantai, “along with several other club members, presented the protest letter to Phuket MP Raywat Areerob.”

Not surprisingly, the MP represents the Democrat Party. The Club asked their ally to convey its demands to the government.

The report then adds the detail of Thitinant (63) and the “case.” She:

resides in New Zealand. However, she was in Bangkok last Friday, at which time she allegedly made improper gestures towards an image of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The image was displayed during a “multi-color” shirt rally the day the Constitution Court gave its verdict on the legalities of making changes to the charter.

While it has been widely reported that Thitinant was “mentally unstable,” the rabid ultra-royalists have been chanting that “her ability to post pictures and other personal information on Facebook” denies this.

Not wishing to be too crude, dismissive or accepting of any claim about Thitinant, PPT would point out that any survey of yellow shirt/ultra-royalist Facebook pages and web sites suggests that the mentally deranged is no impediment to posting.

Phuket News states that:

In their letter, the Rak Phuket Club claimed that Mrs Thitinant violated Article 112 of the Constitution, which embodies the lese majeste law that makes intentional insult to the monarchy a punishable criminal offense.

That the event took place in Bangkok, thousands of kilometers from Phuket, seems not to bother the neo-fascists. They demand that the issue is “addressed immediately in order to uphold the dignity of Thailand as a constitutional monarchy with HM The King as head of state.”

In other words, this is the usual ideological stuff of the dangerous and divisive ultra-royalists. PPT will soon add Thitinant’s case to our list of pending cases.

Updated: Lese majeste and the vindictiveness of ultra-royalists

18 07 2012

While Joe Gordon’s release made international headlines for a day or so, two new lese majeste cases have hit the local headlines. They are telling for the light they throw on not just the political nature of lese majeste but also the extremism of ultra-royalists.

The first case involves the beginning of the lese majeste trial of เอกชัย หงส์กังวาน/Akechai Hongkangwarn, accused of selling copies of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s documentary on the future of the Thai monarchy and the lese majeste. He was arrested in March 2011. For PPT’s material on the case and the documentary, see here. At the time of his arrest, he was also accused of having Wikileaks documents that were considered damaging to the monarchy and especially the crown prince (see here, here, here, here and here on Wikileaks and the linking of the ABC and Wikileaks here).

Akechai is hoping “to establish the fact that the video, along with two manuscripts of WikiLeaks cables he is being charged for under the lese majeste law were factual and did not constitute defamation of the monarchy.”

The Australian Broadcasting Commission has been totally hopeless, refusing to assist Akechai’s defense in any way. They appear to lack any spine.

Interestingly and tellingly, the

presiding judges wanted to hold the trial in camera but The Nation objected, saying it was [un]constitutional and that holding a trial in secret was contrary to standard legal procedure in democratic countries. The judges eventually allowed observers to remain but the video was not shown.

The report states that:

Police Lieut Major Somyot Udomraksasab, who ordered the arrest of Ekachai, stood as one of two prosecution witnesses yesterday. He said he believed the ABC report, which contains video footage involving HRH the Crown Prince, was defamatory. Somyot also testified that he believed that WikiLeaks texts claiming to refer to words by leading Thai politicians such as the late prime minister Samak Sundaravej, former premier Anand Panyarachun and Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanond also contained defamatory remarks about the monarchy.

The defamation of the price seems to refer to the leaked video showing his current wife nude at a birthday party for their dog Fu Fu.

The alleged defamatory words by Prem and Anand are in the cables and suggest that these two may also be at risk of charge. We realize that this is unlikely, but the facts are there, in the cables.

The defense, that the information is true, has already been rejected by the court.

The second case relates to a Bangkok Post story where it is reported that a gang of ultra-royalist vigilantes stormed the airport to prevent a “New Zealand-resident Thai woman accused of a lese majeste offence” from leaving on a “flight to Auckland yesterday…”.

Some 200 extremists “turned up at Suvarnabhumi airport to protest against her possible departure.” They “picketed outside the airport after learning that Thitinant Kaewchantranont, 63, was due to check in for a Thai Airways International (THAI) flight to Auckland.” Who told them?

A Bangkok Post photo

Thitinant, who is said to have “a history of mental illness” did not leave because the police “who have lodged a lese majeste complaint against her, referred her to Srithanya Hospital in Nonthaburi to see if she is genuinely mentally ill.”

The report claims the lese majeste complaint relates to her “allegedly making an improper gesture towards an image of His Majesty the King outside the Constitution Court…”.

Police said they “would have prevented her from boarding, as they believed she was unfit to leave the country.” The Thai Aiways company said that the “plane’s captain had pledged to refuse to pilot the aircraft if Ms Thitinant was on board, arguing the woman could pose a security risk.”

It is difficult to work out who, exactly, is deranged. The mad monarchists, the police or the pilot. Certainly, the mad monarchists, believing the king is god (see the sign on “blasphemy” should probably be seeking mental assessments.

More on this as we hear of it.

Update: A reader makes the good point that as the police are claimed to have lodged a complaint, this may become the first lese majeste case to begin under the Yingluck Shinawatra government. That is, the events of the case are all within the tenure of this government rather than emanating under the previous royalist administration.

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