Programmer suspect denies lèse majesté charges in court

A programmer suspected of lèse majesté has denied the charges, saying that a copycat Facebook account falsely used his photo as profile picture and defamed the King, according to iLaw

Piya J., a programmer, on Monday denied the lèse majesté allegations against him during the deposition hearing at Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court.  

The prosecutor indicted him under Article 112 of the Criminal Code or the lèse majesté law and Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act for importing lèse majesté content into the internet. 

He was accused of using a Facebook profile named Pongsathon Banthon to defame the King. Piya denied owning the account and posting lèse majesté content, but admitted that the profile photo on the account is his. He used the same photo in several social network accounts under his control, added Piya. 

The court set the preliminary hearing for 25 May. 

After the Monday hearing, the prosecutor asked the court to try the case in camera because it concerns the sensitive issue of the monarchy; the court, however, has not yet ruled on this, according to iLaw. 

Thai police on 11 December 2014 arrested Piya and accused him of defaming the monarchy on Facebook. The arrest was made more than a year after the complaint was filed by a group of royalists.

During a press conference after the arrest, the police claimed that Piya admitted that he posted the allegedly lèse majesté content and added that Piya has changed his registered name six times since 2001 and that he illegally used his old national identification cards.

This is not the first 112 case concerning an alleged copycat Facebook profile. In early February, three suspects were released after the case relating to a copycat Facebook profile was reportedly dropped.