Ubon Ratchathani Court in the northeastern province in July gave an unprecedented sentence of 30 years in jail to a musician for defaming the king. Apart from the incredibly harsh jail term, the judge mistakenly added three years to the correct jail term, law academic said.
The court on 31 July sentenced a musician to 30 years in jail, but since the defendant pleaded guilty, the sentence was halved to 15 years in jail.
The man, whose first name begins with P and last name begins with T, was found guilty on nine counts for nine comments insulting the King, Queen and the Crown Prince on Facebook between July 2011 and March 2012. He was convicted under Article 112 of the Criminal Code or the lèse majesté law and Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act.
What is unprecedented is that on each count, the court gave two jail terms, one for an offence under Article 112 or the lèse majesté law, and the second for an offence under the Computer Crime Act.
For each count under Article 112, the court sentenced the defendant to three years’ imprisonment, and for each count under the Computer Crime Act, four months in jail. In total, the defendant was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment (27 years under Article 112 and three years under the Computer Crime Act)
Sawatree Suksi, Assistant Professor at Thammasat University’s Faculty of Law, who specializes in computer crime law, told Prachatai that the court’s calculation of the penalty was wrong.
In short, the three years jail term for the violation of the Computer Crime Act was mistakenly added and the correct total jail terms should be only 27 years, not 30 years, according to Sawatree.
Judges should follow Article 90 of the Criminal Code which states that if an offence violates more than one law, the sentence must follow only the law which carries the most severe sentence, she said. The verdict, which sentenced the defendant under both laws, is not correct in accordance to the principle on concurrent offences.
Sawatree said the defendant should complain to the court to correct the penalty.
According to Prawes Prapanukul, the lawyer who represents the musician, the defendant is not interested in appealing or correcting the penalty. He aims to apply for a royal pardon
The defendant is a musician and native of Ubon Ratchathani Province. Ubon Ratchathani police and police from the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) raided his house, arrested him and confiscated electronic devices in March 2012. Because the defendant claimed to be suffering from mental illness, the police later suspended the case to allow the defendant to be treated. However, the case proceeded rapidly after the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) summoned him on 13 June 2014.
The problematic comments were posted under three Facebook accounts with false names.
The lawyer representing the defendant stated the police used a Facebook account with a picture of a good-looking woman as a decoy to get him to reveal personal information and talk on the phone with her. He believes this was the case because a transcript of the phone conversation was presented as evidence.