A yellow shirt in northeastern Roi Et province has been enjoying a spree of filing lèse majesté complaints against Prachatai readers and contributors in the last few years, and a local police officer has been invited to provide information regarding the complaints to the National Human Rights Commission’s Subcommittee on Civil and Political Rights.
On 13 Feb, Pol Lt Col Sukhit Phetyotha, chief investigator in the case against Prachatai contributor Suraphot Thaweesak, appeared at the meeting of the NHRC subcommittee.
Suraphot was accused of committing lèse majesté offences by Wiput Sukprasert, a yellow shirt in Roi Et and a frequent commentator in Prachatai website, for comments he made on Somsak Jeamteerasakul’s article entitled ‘How will we situate the monarchy in Thai society and politics?’, published by Prachatai on 9 Aug 2010.
Suraphot made the comments under his penname ‘Fringe Philosopher’, by which he had regularly contributed articles to Prachatai.
According to Pol Lt Col Sukhit, Wiput, whose alias at the Prachatai website is ‘I Pad’, filed lèse majesté complaints with Roi Et police on 14 Aug 2010 against Suraphot, Somsak and three more commentators on Somsak’s article at Prachatai.
The Roi Et provincial police set up an investigating team, interrogating those involved in the case and checking IP addresses with the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology.
A police meeting chaired by the Regional Police Commander decided that Suraphot and an unidentified Prachatai reader should be prosecuted as alleged.
The case then was forwarded to a meeting of Provincial Police Region 4 which required further interviews with several people including local administrative authorities, the Deputy Governor, the Mayor, the President of the Provincial Administrative Organization and linguistics specialists.
The meeting then decided that Suraphot should be issued with a summons, and an arrest warrant if he fails to show up.
Suraphot received the police summons on 2 Dec 2011, dated 22 Nov, to report to Roi Et Provincial Police Station on 7 Dec, but he has postponed it to 17 Feb this year.
Regarding police practice in handling complaints under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, police investigators are obliged to forward all cases to the regional and then central police for consideration, including even the cases they have already decided not to pursue.
Sukhit told the NHRC subcommittee that the police were obliged to accept all complaints, or they would be accused of dereliction of duty, and as Article 112 was included in the section concerning national security, anyone could make a complaint.
Wiput or ‘I Pad’, a 45-year-old resident of Roi Et and a graduate from Thammasat University who has claimed to be a guard at rallies of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, has filed several lèse majesté complaints against Prachatai commentators in the last few years.
The NHRC subcommittee also invited him to the meeting, but he declined.