Military court sentences website editor to 9 years in jail for lèse majesté

The military court on Monday sentenced a website editor to nine years in jail for publishing an article deemed to defame the King on a popular anti-establishment news aggregator. The sentence was halved because the defendant pleaded guilty. 
 
The man, whose penname is Somsak Pakdeedech, oversees the content on the Thai E-News website, which mainly aggregates political news from various sources, including Prachatai. The site is popular among red-shirt Internet users. 
 
Last week, the military court sentenced a red-shirt podcast programme host to 10 years in jail for lèse majesté.
 
On Friday morning, the defendant pleaded guilty before the military court during the deposition hearing.  
 
The content which led to the charge is an article by Ji Ungpakorn, a former Chulalongkorn University political scientist who has lived in self-exile in the UK since 2009. The article was published on the website in 2009
 
The court ruled that he was guilty under Article 112 of the Criminal Code and sentenced him to 9 years in jail, but since he pleaded guilty, the sentence was reduced by half to four years and six months in jail.
 
"The verdict didn't surprise me. Personally, I think everything will change. I'm not allowed to talk but ... We shall overcome," the defendant told Prachatai.
 
Although the website has been blocked by the Information and Communication Technology Ministry, the website still operates normally. 
 
Somsak was arrested during a military raid at his house on 25 May.
 
This is the second lèse majesté verdict handed down by a military court. 
 
On 18 November, the military court on Tuesday sentenced the red-shirt host of a political podcast programme to 10 years in jail for defaming the King on his programme, but since the defendant pleaded guilty, the court reduced the sentence by half to five years in jail. 
 
The civilian criminal courts have normally sentenced defendants to between three and five years for each count of lèse majesté, but in these two cases the military court gave nine to 10 years for a single count. 

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