Sondhi Limthongkul, leader of the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy, will testify in court on 21 Aug in his own defence against lèse majesté charges for repeating the words of Da Torpedo on a PAD stage in 2008.
On 25 July, the Criminal Court heard the testimony of the last two prosecution witnesses in the case, Pol Lt Col Phuwasit Mekhi, an investigator at Dusit Police Station, and Pol Maj Gen Amnuay Nimmano, Deputy Commander of the Police Education Command of the Royal Thai Police.
Sondhi has been charged with lèse majesté after he repeated the public speeches of Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul at a PAD rally on 20 July 2008, claiming that he was urging the authorities to take legal action against the anti-coup activist. After being issued an arrest warrant, he turned himself in to the police on 24 July 2008, and was granted bail.
Daranee, aka Da Torpedo, made the speeches at anti-coup rallies at Sanam Luang in June and July 2008, and was arrested on 22 July 2008 after the military lodged a police complaint against her. She has since been detained without bail, and is now serving a 15 year jail sentence. Her case is currently on appeal.
Pol Maj Gen Amnuay, who was then Commander of Metropolitan Police 1, testified that during that time both anti- and pro-coup groups often held rallies and the police had to record speeches and have them transcribed on a daily basis.
When any offence was found, the police would submit the case for consideration by a police committee on lèse majesté, and an investigating team would be set up. He was appointed deputy chief, later promoted to chief, of the team handling Sondhi’s case. After the committee considered evidence gathered and submitted by his team, it gave its approval for the prosecution, he said.
According to him, the police committee to consider lèse majesté cases was set up on 4 June 2007.
Citing Section 70 of the 2007 Constitution which states ‘Every person shall have a duty to uphold the nation, religion, the King and the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State under this Constitution,’ the defence lawyer asked the witness whether Sondhi’s alleged action was meant to urge the authorities to speed up their legal action against Daranee.
Pol Maj Gen Amnuay said that Sondhi seemed to do so, as the people have the duty to protect the institution, but he was not allowed to publicize the offensive remarks.
Asked by the lawyer whether Sondhi’s intention was different from that of Daranee, the witness said that he could not know the defendant’s mind, but it could be interpreted either way. He, however, considered that the defendant’s action constituted the same offence as that of Daranee. And he believed that the defendant should have understood the meaning of Sections 8 and 112 of the Constitution, because the defendant had been ordered by the court, in a case in 2006 which was withdrawn by the prosecution, to be careful in his actions or words which might affect the institution and to not make any claim about the institution.