Military court in northern Thailand holds lèse majesté deposition hearing in camera

A military court in northern Thailand has held a deposition hearing in a lèse majesté case involving a mother of two in camera, citing public morals and stability.

On Tuesday, the military court of the northern province of Chiang Mai held a deposition hearing in the case of Sasiwimol (surname withheld due to privacy concerns), a 29-year-old employee of a hotel in the province for allegedly posting six lèse majesté messages under the Facebook identity ‘Rungnapha Kampichai’.

Before the hearing started, the military court informed the suspect’s family and other observers that the deposition hearing would be held in camera because the case is related to the revered Thai monarchy and might cause instability and affect public morals.

At the deposition hearing, the suspect denied the allegation under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law. The court has scheduled a hearing to examine prosecution witness for 8 July 2015.

In September 2014, a Facebook group in Chiang Mai known simply as ‘Facebook Chiang Mai’ filed a lèse majesté complaint against a Facebook user under the name ‘Rungnapha Kampichai’ at a local police station.

Shortly after, an individual whose real identity is Rungnapha Kampichai contacted the group, saying that the Facebook account under her name does not belong to her.

In the same month, police officers searched Sasiwimol’s house in Chiang Mai and confiscated her mobile phone and computer.

On 13 February 2015, police summoned the suspect and accused her of posting six messages allegedly defaming the Thai monarchy on Facebook. Sasiwimol was then brought to the military court and Chiang Mai Women's Correctional Institute for detention. She has remained in custody since.

The suspect’s family four times offered 400,000 baht (11,869 USD) as bail to the military court. However, the court denied bail, citing the severity of the case.

Sasiwimol has two daughters aged seven and five. She said that she has never participated in any political demonstration and that she is not interested in politics.