Lèse majesté trial begins for a woman stepping on the King’s picture

The Criminal Court on Tuesday began hearing the case of a 65-year-old woman who stepped on a picture of HM the King in July 2012 and was prosecuted for violating the lèse majesté law. 
 
Thitinan (last name withheld due to privacy concerns) was accused of defaming HM the King by allegedly stepping on the King’s picture during a pro-establishment rally in front of the Constitutional Court in July 13, 2012. The protesters at the rally brought charges against her with the police and would testify against her in the hearing. 
 
The defendant has been diagnosed as bipolar since 2003. After being prosecuted, she was detained in a mental institute for 45 days and then at the Women’s Correctional Institute in Bangkok for about a month. She later was bailed with a 300,000 baht guarantee. 
 
If the court finds Thitinan completely mentally disabled, she will not be held liable; however if it is proven that she was partially mentally ill when committing the act, she will receive a reduced punishment. 
 
The court will hear prosecution witnesses during March 11-14 and defence witnesses on March 18 at the Criminal Court in Bangkok. 
 
Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code is the harshest lèse majesté law in the world. It stipulates that "whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years." Critics of the law say it is abused as a political tool and severely limits freedom of expression.