Somsak 'Pessimistic' about Lese Majeste Law Fight

Well-known Thammasat historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul said he was both surprised and appalled by the decision of police to forward his lese majeste police complaint case to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).

Somsak, who lectures at Thammasat University, said on the phone that since the complaint lodged against him was made by the “influential” Thai Army, the case which first surfaced last year, is unlikely to be dropped.

He insisted that he did not violate the controversial lese majeste law, which carries a maximum imprisonment term of 15 years, because he criticized Princess Chulabhorn who is not an heir apparent and thus not protected under the law.

Somsak requested and was permitted to defer his appearance to the OAG from to a date yet to be set in December in order to prepare his legal fight. “The prosecutor could arrest me [on that day], however,” said Somsak. “Lese majeste is a kind of legal case that has no way out. I look at it very pessimistically.”

The historian also criticized the House of Representatives and the Yingluck Shinawatra administration for not doing anything to amend the law, thus allowing the climate of fear to persist.

He said members of the campaign to amend to law must have been caught “clueless” by the recent rejection by the House to even debate the law. “The government is totally silent. The government has not even left a room,” said Somsak, who enjoys a large following for his writings critical of the law and the monarchy institution.

There are currently at least seven people detained under the law with hundreds more in the process of possibly being charged or having received police complaints made against them.