Lèse majesté suspect with mental illness retracts statement, pleads guilty

A mentally ill Thai accused of defaming the monarchy has retracted his pre-trial statement and pleaded guilty as charged, saying that he could no longer stand a lengthy court process.  

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), Samak P., a 48-year-old man from the northern province of Chiang Rai accused under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, or lèse majesté law, on Friday, 10 July 2015, retracted his statement and pleaded guilty before the military court in Chiang Rai.

The suspect informed his lawyer that he wanted to retract his statement during the prosecution witness hearings because he could no longer wait for the lengthy process of the court and that he wants to case to end as fast as possible.

He decided to plead guilty as charged after the court told him that there are seven more prosecution witnesses yet to testify in the case. So far, four have testified.

The military court has scheduled sentencing for 6 August 2015.

TLHR reported that from March-May 2015, the military court postponed witness examination hearings on the case three times due to the unavailability of prosecution witnesses and the failure of the police to inform witnesses of the case.

Samak was arrested by the police and the deputy village head of San Pasak in Thoeng District of Chiang Rai on 8 July 2014 after he reportedly tore apart a picture of the King at the entrance to the village while carrying a knife. He confessed that he destroyed the picture on the day of his arrest and has remained in custody since.

During the trial on 8 June 2015, the deputy village head testified that Samak seemed drunk and smelled of alcohol when he was arrested.

Samak has been diagnosed for several years by Chiang Rai Hospital as suffering serious mental illness and has to take medication to battle visual and auditory hallucinations. The defendant said that he constantly hears whispers.

Last year, at the deposition hearing of the case, Anon Numpa, the defence lawyer, said that 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 unaware of his own actions, and the case therefore should be dropped.

The lawyer then presented medical documents to prove that Samak suffered from serious psychosis. The military prosecutor, however, objected and said since the defendant did not plead guilty as charged the trial must proceed.

Advertisements

Since 2007, Prachatai English has been covering underreported issues in Thailand, especially about democratization and human rights, despite the risk and pressure from the law and the authorities. However, with only 2 full-time reporters and increasing annual operating costs, keeping our work going is a challenge. Your support will ensure we stay a professional media source and be able to expand our team to meet the challenges and deliver timely and in-depth reporting.

• Simple steps to support Prachatai English

1. Bank transfer to account “โครงการหนังสือพิมพ์อินเทอร์เน็ต ประชาไท” or “Prachatai Online Newspaper” 091-0-21689-4, Krungthai Bank

2. Or, Transfer money via Paypal, to e-mail address: service@prachatai.com, please leave a comment on the transaction as “For Prachatai English”