Thai man found guilty of attempted lèse-majesté

Thai Criminal Court on Thursday handed out an unprecedented lèse majesté ruling, sentencing a man to jail for an attempt to insult the royal family because insulting messages and photos of the royal family were found in his computer. 
 
The court found Kittiton, last name withheld due to privacy reasons, guilty of three offences. 
 
Two offences were related to posting a lèse-majesté message twice on a web forum called Internet to Freedom on DangDD.com, a hard-core anti-establishment web forum, under the username Kenji. He was found guilty under the lèse majesté law, or Article 112 of the Criminal Code, and Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act and was sentenced to five years imprisonment for each offence.
 
Kittiton has been living behind bars for almost four months. He says he will request a royal pardon. Photo courtesy of iLaw
 
Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act states that any person who commits any offence of the following acts shall be subject to imprisonment for not more than five years or a fine of not more than one hundred thousand baht or both:
(1) that involves import to a computer system of forged computer data, either in whole or in part, or false computer data, in a manner that is likely to cause damage to a third party or the public;
(2) that involves import to a computer system of false computer data in a manner that is likely to damage the country's security or cause a public panic;
(3) that involves import to a computer system of any computer data related to an offence against the Kingdom's security under the Criminal Code;
(4) that involves import to a computer system of any computer data of a pornographic nature that is publicly accessible;
(5) that involves the dissemination or forwarding of computer data already known to be computer data under (1) (2) (3) or (4);
 
The third offence was related to an attempt to insult the monarchy. The prosecutor made the accusation that evidence on the defendant’s computer showed that he had prepared to post another lèse majesté message on the web forum, but the attempt failed because of his arrest and the confiscation of his computer. He was found guilty under Articles 112 and 80 of the Criminal Code for the attempted offence and was sentenced to three years and four months in jail. Nevertheless, the judges did not give the rationale for their decision. 
 
Article 80 of the Criminal Code states that whoever commences to commit an offence, but does not carry it through, or carries it through, but does not achieve its end, is said to attempt to commit an offence. Whoever attempts to commit an offence shall be liable to two-thirds of the punishment as provided by the law for such offence.
 
However, the court said, since the defendant had pleaded guilty and his testimony was beneficial to the trial, the jail terms were reduced to six years and eight months in total. 
 
The defendant said he would not appeal and would request a royal pardon. 
 
About 20 police officers raided his house in central Samut Prakan Province in August 2013, when he was reportedly logged in on the web forum under the username Kenji. The defendant is 51 years old, and owns a wholesale shop in the province. 
 
According to iLaw, this is the first recorded case where Article 112 was applied with Article 80 for a so-called attempted lèse majesté conviction.