Tom Dundee singing again

8 08 2019

Soon after his release from prison, having served five years on lese majeste charges, Tom Dundee had a new music video out:

The lyrics are translated here.

Updated: Tom Dundee released

17 07 2019

It is good that lese majeste prisoner Tom Dundee has finally been released from prison. He was one of those scooped up following the 2014 military coup and jailed. He served more than five years.

Update: In another report, Tom states: “I am just a grain of sand on the beach of democracy…. I have chosen to do what is right, even if it might bring me harm or even death.”

Another lese majeste acquittal

15 11 2018

The change to the prosecution and conviction of lese majeste cases continues to move in a better direction.

Khaosod reports that “Sakan Saengfueng … walked free today [14 Nov] after spending nearly five years in jail…”.

He had earlier been convicted in an alleged bomb plot and spent 4 years in jail on that score. Sakan and two other alleged red shirts were arrested in April 2009 “on suspicion of plotting to bomb the head office of Charoen Pokphand…”.

When he was to be released, “Sakan was then held in custody after other inmates accused him of royal insult.” In 2014 these inmates allegedly “complained to guards that Sakan insulted the monarchy while watching a TV documentary on King Rama IX.”

This led to a lese majeste charge and Sakan was “detained shortly after his release in 2017. He was denied bail and sent back to jail for the next seven months.”

Interestingly, like Tom Dundee, Sakan initially pleaded not guilty but agreed to cop a guilty plea. However, the court did not accept this. Remarkably, the court “said Sakan’s remarks ‘needed interpretation’ and were not evidently critical of the Royal Family as alleged by the plaintiffs.” Because of this and a lack of evidence, like Tom, Sakan was acquitted.

The state may appeal, but in the current climate this seems unlikely.

Updated: Lese majeste on the way out?

22 09 2018

Readers will have seen the several stories about and appeals court dropping lese majeste charges against six persons who allegedly burned public portraits of the previous king and the current one. They might also recall that PPT pointed to a change in the lese majeste wind:

There has been some social media discussion of the meaning of this dismissal [of Tom Dundee] – despite the guilty plea extracted – and the recent unexplained dropping of a lese majeste case against lawyer Prawet Praphanukul. Does this indicate that the regime and/or palace changed the absolute draconian approach to lese majeste?

The South China Morning Post reports:

The six, aged between 18 and 20, were arrested last year for setting fire to portraits of King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, at several spots around the northeastern province of Khon Kaen. A court found them guilty of lèse-majesté, arson, damaging public property and organised crime.

One of the six was jailed for 11-and-a-half years, three received terms of seven years and eight months, while two got three years and four months.

The appeals court has dropped the lese majeste charges against them “but they will still have to serve lengthy jail terms for damaging public property.”

In the report a human rights lawyer has said this “appears to be a new policy direction.”

But they still have hefty jail terms: “nine years instead of 11 and a half; six years instead of seven years and eight months; and three years instead of three years and four months.”

According to Pawinee Chumsri, a lawyer of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, “[o]nly 10 lèse-majesté cases remained before the courts.” Pawinee adds: “Since the beginning of this year, the court has dropped Article 112 prosecutions and pursued other charges instead…”.

Channel NewsAsia also quotes Pawineewho says: “It’s somewhat good progress to see 112 cases are not easily prosecuted…”. Yingcheep Atchanont, of iLaw, says “there have been four acquittals this year and no new cases.”

The junta says it is being “careful” with 112 charges as it shines its international credentials and looks to a post-“election” future as a “legitimate” regime. At the same time, the huge increase in cases in 2014-16 has had its political impact, shutting up critics of monarchy and regime as red shirts and republicans who have not fled Thailand have been silenced.

That said, we suspect the King recognizes that 112 does him no good either, although he’s used the law himself to sort out his own issues.

Sedition and computer crimes charges are now likely to be favored, reducing the criticism the regime and monarchy face in future.

Update: The Bangkok Post editorial on lese majeste is worth reading.

Tom Dundee escapes one lese majeste conviction

29 06 2018

Tom Dundee, a red shirt singer charged with lese majeste, has escaped a third lese majeste conviction (a fourth charge had been dismissed in March this year).

The decision by the Ratchaburi Provincial Court was remarkable. Even though Tom (whose name is Thanat Thanawatcharanon) had agreed to plead guilty, the court ruled that “the evidence did not support the charge.”

This may be of little comfort to Tom as he is already serving 10 years for two other lese majeste convictions. But it means he is now able to apply for a royal pardon.

There has been some social media discussion of the meaning of this dismissal – despite the guilty plea extracted – and the recent unexplained dropping of a lese majeste case against lawyer Prawet Praphanukul. Does this indicate that the regime and/or palace changed the absolute draconian approach to lese majeste?

It might be added that what might have brought lese majeste charges a short time ago, against monks and mediums using the royal name, have resulted in other charges.

We wonder if the upcoming “election” and coronation account for the recent cases being handled differently. Let’s see what happens.

Tom Dundee beats one lese majeste charge

29 03 2018

Prachatai reports that Tom Dundee (Thanat Thanawatcharanon) has beaten his latest lese majeste charge.

The Bangkok Criminal Court dismissed the case against the red shirt activist, citing weak evidence. Actually, there seems to have been no evidence.

The ridiculous charge against Tom was over the comparison he made between Thailand and Denmark and traffic control related to monarchs. As we have said before, this discussion of the stopping of traffic for royals in Thailand has been official and widespread.

In other words, this fourth charge against Tom was ultra-royalists being vindictive and taking advantage of the royalist courts to punish political opponents.

On 29 March 2018, the court ruled that the “complaint described by the public prosecutor cannot prove that the defendant’s speech is a violation of Article 112 of the Criminal Code…”. This is a bit of a breakthrough, acknowledging that actual evidence is required for prosecution.

Making this case even more bizarre, Tom had earlier agreed to plead guilty (as “required” by the royalist police, prosecutors and military regime). It seems the court accepted the plea but agreed it cannot punish him.

Tom remains in jail, having been “convicted” on three other lese majeste cases.

Piling on lese majeste cases

14 02 2018

Usually the military dictatorship just piles up lese majeste cases at a rate of one to two a week since 2014. However, in the case of singer and red-shirt Tom Dundee (Thanat Thanawatcharanon), the regime is piling case up against him.

The 60 year old activist is already in jail for more than 10 years on two lese majeste “convictions,” but the regime seems determined to bury him under cases and to keep sending the message to those inclined to republicanism to keep very quiet or risk charges, more-or-less mandatory conviction and jail.

Following his conviction, in early 2018, another charges was laid. Now, on 13 February 2018, the Bangkok Criminal Court summoned Tom from prison to be indicted on a fourth lese majeste charge. This charge relates to “a speech at a red-shirt rally in 2011 in Lamphun Province.”

Yes, that’s 2011. It is not a typo.

This latest charge against Tom suggests how desperate the regime and palace are in stamping out republicanism.

The activist has agreed to plead guilty to a charge that he compared “Thailand with Denmark, where the King has to stop at traffic lights.”

Yes, that’s commenting on kings and traffic lights. The prosecutor claimed this comparison was illegal because Tom’s words “can be understood to be referring to King Rama IX, and makes ordinary people have negative thoughts against the monarchy…”.

There’s a couple of things to note here. First, it seems Tom did not mention any royal by name. Second, it seems the prosecutor knows that Thais understand that the comment is about their then king because stopping traffic for all levels of royal in Thailand is common and commonly hated. In such circumstances, it seems the prosecutor is also “defaming” the monarchy by drawing this conclusion. And, third, discussion of delays associated with tiresome, polluting and expensive royal cavalcades has been public for many years. Back in 2012, efforts were made to “improve” the situation. (We doubt the current obsessive-compulsive king would want other than to make the cavalcades more intrusive and wasteful. That’s his style.)

All of this makes the fourth case against Tom simply mindless vengefulness on the part of the royalist military regime.

Tom apparently “agreed” to plead guilty after previously denying all accusations and fighting his cases because he knows that defending the cases means longer jail terms. He now “wants the prosecution to end as soon as possible,” and hopes to seek a pardon.

Updates on two lese majeste cases

26 01 2018

Prachatai has reported on two lese majeste cases.

The first involves singer Tom Dundee or Thanat Thanawatcharanon.

A red shirt singer, Tom was sentenced in June 2016 in two lese majeste cases to a total of 20 years, reduced to 10 years and 10 months after he finally agreed to plead guilty to end cases that were dragging on interminably because he had refused to plead guilty. This has become the junta style in lese majeste cases and amounts to a travesty of justice and an infringement of basic legal rights. His cases were heard in secret, in closed courts.

In another twist in Thailand’s injustice system, it is reported that a” prosecutor in Ratchaburi has indicted a red-shirt country singer for lèse majesté, without giving prior notice to the suspect and his lawyer.” On 25 January 2018, Tom was “accused of making a speech deemed defamatory to the monarchy during a protest of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship — the redshirts.”

Apparently, this is an old case that Tom and his lawyers thought it had been dropped. As we have said before, lese majeste cases are seldom announced as dropped, but are held in abeyance and can be reactivated at any time.

With little notice, it seems the court urgently summoned Tom to appear. As a result, his “lawyer could not present at the court during the indictment.” Meanwhile Tom is held at Ratchaburi Prison.

In lese majeste cases, the injustice system never worries about things like rights under the law.

The second case involves Nurhayati  Masoh, a blind woman arrested some time in November 2016, accused of lese majeste. The 23 year-old unemployed Thai-Malay Muslim from Yala was convicted on 4 January 2018 and sentenced to three years in jail after she agreed to plead guilty.

In a bizarre twist to the case, it is reported that on 23 January, Nuruhayati’s relatives were told by an officer from Yala Provincial Court “that the convict was released on bail. The lawyer and her family confirmed that they did not know who is the bail guarantor or how much the bail cost.”

That her lawyers knew nothing of the bail application suggests something odd is going on and that someone very high up is involved.

Tom Dundee gets another 5 years on lese majeste

11 07 2016

Prachatai reports that a military court has sentenced singer Tom Dundee (Thanat Thanawatcharanon) to 5 years in jail for lese majeste. The prison term was reduced by a third for a guilty plea.

According to the report, Tom was charged with two lese majeste offenses for speeches at two red shirt rallies in November 2013.

The first case went to the Criminal Court while the second case was sent to the Military Court “as the YouTube clip of the speech was available online until 27 June 2014, after the coup d’état.”

Tom Dundee

Tom got 15 years from the Criminal Court, reduced by half. In total, he has now been sentenced to 20 years, reduced to 10 years and 10 months in prison. His lawyers say he hopes for a royal pardon.

Pleading guilty and begging for a royal pardon are considered by royalists as significant in re-establishing the sacrality of the damaged royal reputation by demeaning the person seeking a pardon and agreeing to plead guilty.

Tom Dundee gets 15 years for lese majeste

1 06 2016

A couple of days ago we posted on the lese majeste case against singer Tom Dundee (Thanat Thanawatcharanon), 58, who had been on trial for almost two years and had spent 11 months in prison.

As we reported, Tom agreed to give up the fight to clear his name “because he has been imprisoned for almost two years and he just wants to case to end as soon as possible in order to request for a royal pardon.”

The Criminal Court, which was hearing one of the cases against Tom immediately scheduled a verdict hearing on the case at 10 am for 1 June.

Today, Tom was sentenced to 15 years. As usual, because he had finally agreed to plead guilty, as required by the royalists, the Criminal Court reduced the sentence to seven and a half years in prison. 

Bizarrely, the Court also “instructed [Tom] to author a song promoting national reconciliation after he has served his time.” And, he “was also told by the judge to plant trees in honor for … the [k]ing after completing his seven and and a half year jail term.”

The biases and ideological drive of the court is even more apparent than usual.

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