Military court takes lèse majesté case involving mentally ill patient

The military court in Chiang Rai on Thursday ruled to proceed with the trial of a lèse majesté case despite an obvious lack of intention on the part of the defendant who allegedly was out of his mind when committing the crime. 
 
During the deposition hearing on Thursday at the Military Court of the northern province of Chiang Rai, Anon Nampa, the lawyer representing Samak P., a 48 year-old farmer accused of tearing up a picture of the King and carrying a weapon (a knife) in public, requested that the case be dropped due to the mental illness of the accused,.
 
Anon said his client admitted to tearing the image, but claimed that he did not intend to do so because the act was done when he was insensible, and the case therefore should be dropped.
 
The lawyer then presented medical documents to prove that Somsak has suffered from serious psychosis. Samak said that he constantly hears whispers.
 
The military prosecutor, however, objected and said since the defendant did not plead guilty as charged the trial must be held. 
 
The military court judge ruled in favour of the prosecutor and said that witness hearings will be held to see if the defendant's claim is justified or not.
 
Normally in the Court of Justice, the court usually mitigates or suspends a sentence if the defendants suffer from mild mental illness while committing the alleged crimes.  
 
Samak was arrested by the police and assistant village chief on 8 July at a village in Thoeng District of northern Chiang Rai Province after he reportedly tore apart a picture of the King at the entrance to the village. He confessed that he destroyed the picture on the day of his arrest.
 
He has been diagnosed for several years with serious mental illness at Chiang Rai Hospital and has to take medication to battle with visual and auditory hallucinations.
 
The military court has scheduled the next hearing on 12 January 2015.  
 
Before the deposition hearing was held, the military court judge requested a private meeting with the defence lawyer regarding his past Facebook posts, criticizing the military court for not allowing public attendance at the trial.
 
The lawyer told the court that earlier he was obstructed by military officers who installed a checkpoint to prevent others who are not related to the case from entering the court. However, the judge said those officers were not the military court personnel, but military officers.