The Appeal Court on Wednesday sentenced Katha P., a former stockbroker, to two years and eight months in jail for posting rumours about HM the King’s state of health which, the court said, led to a sharp fall in the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) in 2009.
The Court found Katha
guilty on two counts under Articles 14 (2) and 14 (3) of the 2007 Computer Crimes Act, which punish whoever imports into a computer system false computer data in a manner that is likely to damage the country's security or cause a public panic and whoever imports into a computer system any computer data related to an offence against the Kingdom's security under the Criminal Code, respectively.
After the verdict was read, the defendant was jailed at the court on Ratchadaphisek road. Since the defendant’s lawyer and relatives did not show up at the court, there were difficulties in the process of submitting a bail request. At press time, Katha had not been granted bail.
On Dec 25, 2012, the Court of First Instance found Katha guilty on two counts under the 2007 Computer Crimes Act and sentenced him to 6 years in prison, but reduced the prison term to 4 years due to his guilty plea. Katha was granted bail with a cash guarantee of 500,000 baht.
Katha, 39, was found guilty of using the username “Wet Dream” to post the two comments in April and October 2009 on a now-defunct anti-establishment Same Sky web forum
The first comment, posted in April 2009, was about the royal family and the yellow-shirt movement. The second comment was posted on October 14, 2010, 3 pm, and concerned rumours about HM the King’s health.
In July 2012, Katha submitted a petition to the Constitutional Court to rule whether Article 14 (2) of the Computer-Related Crime Act 2550 is an unclear law that provides an opportunity for officials to use an unlimited power of discretion. The Constitutional Court ruled in September 2012 that Article 14 (2) aims to protect national security and public order. This is consistent with the rule of law and assigns legal responsibility to individuals in a manner that is right and just to all parties.