On 15 Dec, the Criminal Court sentenced Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul to 15 years in prison, after the Constitutional Court had ruled that its secret trial of the case was not unconstitutional.
Daranee was initially sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment on 28 Aug 2009.
Chanathip Muanpawong, the same judge who recently sentenced Amphon Tangnoppakul to 20 years in jail, said that Daranee was found guilty of lèse majesté on three counts and was sentenced to 5 years in prison on each count.
According to the verdict, which was similar to the previous one, Daranee committed the offences when she delivered public speeches defamatory to the monarchy at anti-coup rallies at Sanam Luang in Bangkok on 7, 13 June and 18-19 July 2008.
In describing her crimes, the court cited Section 8 of the 2007 Constitution that, ‘The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action.’
Daranee’s mention of ‘yellow and blue collars’ and ‘Jitrlada bottled drinking water' in her speech on 7 June 2008, ‘although not naming any particular names, was a symbolic message insinuating that Their Majesties the King and Queen supported the People’s Alliance for Democracy, which was a verbal offence against Their Majesties,’ the court said.
Citing that ‘on 13 June 2008, the defendant mentioned ‘an invisible hand’, linking it to the distortion of the judicial process and saying that Thailand was like it had been before 1932,’ the court said that ‘the defendant had a master’s degree and was a journalist, so she should have been well aware that the form of government prior to 1932 was an absolute monarchy, so the speech implied that currently Thailand was still under an absolute monarchy in which the King had absolute power, and the defendant, being a journalist, should have known that judges’ oath taking ceremony [before the King] was according to the Constitution.
‘The defendant also referred to a person residing at Si Sao Thewet who was involved with the coup; although not naming any names, the defendant, being a journalist, should have known the fact that Gen Prem Tinsulanonda lived there,’ the court said, adding that, ‘as a prosecution witness testified that Gen Prem had been appointed President of the Privy Council, so the “invisible hand” did not mean Gen Prem as the defendant had claimed, and although this was an insinuation, listeners would know who it was meant to be.’
‘In addition,’ the court said, ‘[the defendant] also mentioned the Japanese, Russian and French monarchies, which the defendant referred to as ‘ruling classes’ and meant the monarchy.’
‘Although the defendant testified that she did not intend to offend the monarchy, claiming that Thailand would not survive without the monarchy and she wanted to protect the institution and prevent it from being dragged into politics by certain people, the court, considering the overall content of her speeches, saw that she repeated the same points over and over again and it showed that she did so with intention, not as a slip of the tongue, so the defendant was guilty as charged,’ the court said.
After hearing the verdict, Daranee said that she would not appeal, as precedents in many other cases had shown that to fight in court would take many years, so she decided to end her case.
Asked whether she would ask for a royal pardon, she nodded.
On 22 July 2008 officials arrested Daranee after raiding her dormitory. She has since been detained in the women’s prison for 3 years and 6 months without bail.