Thai Criminal Court on Thursday handed out an unprecedented lèse majesté ruling, sentencing a man to jail for an attempt to insult the royal family because insulting messages and photos of the royal family were found in his computer.
From the latest Supreme Court's ruling on lèse majesté case, historians, political scientists and law academics discussed the implication of the ruling on the study of Thai history.
There have not been many Thai Sumpreme Court lese majesty cases that have been made public—the last one was Veera Musikapong’s 1988 case—and so it is always exciting when the veil is pulled back a little further on the mysteries of the high court’s jurisprudence. The Supreme Court case made available just a few days ago does much to excite and even more to alarm. The implications of this case are tremendous, and may well mark the low point of the regime of lese majesty in Thailand. At first glance, this case seems like a very bad one that can have devastating, real-life consequences. But reading it more deeply and the case becomes much worse than it first appears.
While the ruling Pheu Thai Party has disappointed its red-shirt voters over the controversial blanket amnesty bill, the idea of an alternative political party has been discussed more and more among red shirts. As if this was the perfect moment, Thanaporn Sriyakul, who was banned from politics for five years from 2008, has announced an alternative political party which vows to give priority to the amendment of the lèse majesté law. The establishment of autonomy in the restive Deep South is also a campaign highlight. Prachatai talked with him about this dream party of liberals.
Surachai Danwatthananusorn, a 71-year-old Red Siam faction leader convicted on five lèse majesté charges, was granted a royal pardon on Friday after having been imprisoned in Bangkok Remand Prison since February 22, 2011.
The recent spike in lèse majesté cases seems likely to continue, the majority being brought by private individuals with a variety of motives. An accusation brought by TV talk show host Pontipa Supatnukul has, for example, triggered a chain reaction of similar accusations.
Next week, the witness hearings in the case of Yutthapoom (last name withheld) will begin in the Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Road in Bangkok. Yutthapoom was accused of violating Article 112 while watching television and writing an insulting message on a CD. What makes his case different from many others that have passed through the courts in the years since the 2006 coup is that the alleged criminal acts took place in the private space of his home. The person who filed the complaint against Yutthapoom was his older brother.
Bundit Aneeya, a 73-year-old freelance writer and translator, is to face the final verdict of the Supreme Court in his lèse majesté case in August. He was sentenced to four years in March 2006 for defaming the monarchy by distributing politics-related documents at an academic seminar.