Below is an unofficial translation of the Supreme Court's verdict which stated on May 8, 2013 that Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, is applicable to Thailand's former Kings.
The Supreme Court upheld the verdict of the Court of the First Instance which found the defendant guilty of defaming King Rama IV, who reigned from 1851 to 1868, and handed down a sentence of four year’s imprisonment. Since the defendant confessed, it reduced the term to a two year suspended sentence. (Related news: Supreme Court rules to have lèse-majesté cover Thailand’s former-king
Notes: This is an unofficial translation. Errors may remain. The page numbers of the original Thai-language decision are noted in [ ] at the beginning of each new page. Additional clarifying notes are added in [ ] for English-language readers as well. A particular caveat is needed for the statement which the court judged to be criminal, which is located at the bottom of pages 2 and 3. The contest in question was a local election in which the speaker lost to his competitor. The pronoun used here is “เรา” which is here translated conventionally as “we,” but the speaker could have also used it to mean “I” in reference to himself, as one can do among friends and in less formal contexts.
In the Name of His Majesty the King
No. 6374/2556, Supreme Court
On the day of 8 November 2556 B.E. [2013 C.E.]
The public prosecutor, Chonburi Province Plaintiff
Mr. Natchakrit [last name withheld] Defendant
Case Offence Against the King, Queen, Heir-Apparent, or Regent
The plaintiff appealed the judgment.
Appeal Court, Region 2 Submitted on 28 July 2552 B.E. [2009 C.E.]
Supreme Court Accepted on 19 July 2553 B.E. [2010 C.E.]
The plaintiff charged that on 4 April 2548 , during the day, the defendant, who is the host and presenter for “Think Together, Solve Together,” a community radio program, broadcast and transmitted the statement on the program that, “Listeners of Think Together, Solve Together, the number is 038-443888. We just had a call from off-air asking why Khun Natchakrit failed. Whatever the reason, we don’t have to speak to it at all, that failure of mine. Every day I walk proudly and nobly. In the duty to acknowledge goodness, I encounter it daily and have only positive feelings. Therefore, I am proud that I am firm in my ideals and possess human dignity. I will also tell you, listeners, why I had to compete with him. Listeners, now I will chat with a caller first. Eh, hello, eh, hello. I failed, but I am clean and that is enough. Eh, hello, I want to thank you, brothers and sisters of Serd Noi who encouraged us. I am speaking about the good people, listeners, a presenter from Serd Noi said that the good people are behind us. They will come out. How many times have you failed? It’s as if I am in the middle of the pool, but I am proud. That I, I speak from my heart that I am proud. If I wanted to be a member like him, I would make it before him. I was given the opportunity before. I was invited to be a member
just like he is today, but I refused. But I refused, listeners, because human dignity, in anything that we think that we do, if we do so with liberty, if we do so out of free thinking, for our brothers and sisters, then we would go. But if we have to go, then it is same as the reign of Rama IV. But we are not [in that era]. That era has ended. But some aspects of that era may remain here, in this country,” to the people of Baan Bing district, Chonburi Province. The aforementioned statement is defamatory and insulting to Rama IV, who was the king in the past. The statement compares his reign as one in which [the people] had to be slaves, there was no freedom, and rule was poor. The statement [could] cause the people to completely lose their faith, and was in a fashion likely to cause Rama IV to lose his honor and reputation, and to be disparaged and despised. The statement was with the intention to cause the people to lose their faith and not respect the sanctity [of the monarch]. The incident took place in Baan Bing sub-district, Baan Bing district, Chonburi Province. The defendant is the same person as the defendant in Black Case No. 714/2550 of the Court of First Instance, and the punishment in this case should be added to the prison term in that case.
The defendant confessed.
The Court of First Instance examined the case and judged that the defendant was guilty of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison. The defendant confessed and cooperated with the proceedings, which caused the reduction of the sentence in half under Article 78 of the Criminal Code to a sentence of 2 years. The prison sentence was suspended for 2 years, with the condition that the defendant report to a probation officer every 4 months for a period of 1 year, and under Article 56 of the Criminal Code, carry out 12 hours of community or public service deemed appropriate by the probation officer and the defendant.
The plaintiff appealed for the sentence not to be suspended.
The Court of Appeals in Region 2 reversed the judgment and dismissed the charges.
The plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court examined the case file and met to confer. The view [of the Court] is that Article 112 of the Criminal Code that prescribes that “Whoever defames, insults or threatens
the King, Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent…” does not stipulate whether or not the king [in question] must currently be reigning at the time of the offence, and does not stipulate whether or not the king who is acted upon must be the king who is currently reigning. Upon examination, the [Court] notes that the aforementioned law is a Category 1 law, an offence against the security of the kingdom. This indicates that although the wrongdoing affects the king, queen, or heir-apparent, only the royalty, it may also effects on national security. Thailand has been ruled by a king from its establishment, from absolute monarchy until democracy, in which the sovereignty is of the people and rule is by the people for the people. But the king is still revered and worshipped. He is the head of state and the Supreme Commander of the Army. The king signs the laws passed by Parliament and makes the appointments of important positions, whether of the Cabinet, the Speaker of the Parliament, or the President of the Supreme Court. The king is put into position by the Palace Law of Succession, which causes the king to inherit royal succession along blood lines, in particular [here] the Chakri Dynasty.
From Rama I up until the present king, the people in the country have been bound to the king through his position as revered and worshipped. The Constitution of the Kingdom therefore prescribes that the king is enthroned and no person shall expose the king to any sort of accusation or action. Given that the law does not mandate that the king must be currently reigning only, the person who acted [in the aforementioned fashion, i.e., the defendant] is therefore guilty under Article 112 of the Criminal Code. Even though the action was against a deceased king, it is still an offence in line with the aforementioned law. The defamation of a prior king may affect the present king who currently reigns. As Rama IV was the father of Rama V, who was the grandfather of King Bhumipol Adulyadej, the current king, this creates an opportunity for violation and defamation that can affect the current king. As it has been said, from the beginning, that Thai people have always been bound to the monarchy, the people still revere and worship kings after they are deceased. There are official wreath-laying ceremonies organized every year.
Therefore, if there are insults or defamation of a deceased king, they may still have repercussions on the feelings of the people [and] that may lead to dissatisfaction and may have repercussions on the national security of the kingdom. This appeal of the plaintiff is valid. Regarding the appeal of the plaintiff for the sentence of the defendant not to be suspended, it is the view of the court that as the defendant confessed and demonstrated that he was aware of his actions, the suspension of the sentence will allow defendant to return [to proceed] as a good citizen. This appeal by the plaintiff is not valid.
The decision is reversed. Carry out the judgment in line with the Court of First Instance.
Mr. Sirichai Watthanayothin
Mr. Thaweep Tansawat
Mr. Phasawat Kanoknak