Lèse majesté indictment involving prominent red shirt figure postponed

Prosecutors in Isan in Thailand’s Northeast, have postponed an indictment of a lese majeste case involving a well known anti-establishment redshirt figure, Sombat Boonngamanong, aka. Nuling.

On Wednesday, 26 August 2015, the prosecutor’s office of the northeastern province of Roi-Et, postponed the indictment of Sombat Boonngamanong, the leader of Red Sunday,  red shirt. Sombat is accused of offenses under Article 112 of the Criminal Crime Code, the lese majeste law, and Article 14 of the Computer Crime Code, which forbids importing illegal online contents.

According to Anon Numpa, the defense lawyer for the accused, the prosecutors will decide whether to file the case with the court or not on 29 September 2015.

The Roi-Et police charged Sombat with lese majeste in June 2014 after Wiput Sukprasert, a yellow-shirt businessman in Roi-Et whose online identity is ‘IPad’, filed a complaint in January 2014 under Article 112 against Sombat for posting a doctored image deemed defaming to the monarchy on social networks.

The allegedly offensive material is a doctored image of the 2006 coup makers with Their Majesties the King and Queen... In the image, photosof Suthep Thaugsuban, the leader of the anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), and a woman replace those of Their Majesties the King and Queen, while the faces of the then Army Chief, Navy Chief, Air Force Chief, Police Chief and Supreme Commander are replaced by those of key figures from the PDRC and the Democrat Party.

Sombat told Prachatai that he did not create the doctored photo. He added that he has been very careful with the issue of the monarchy and never really touched the issue.

Wiput has also filed at least 15 lese majeste cases against prominent academics and journalists such as Pravit Rojanaphruk, a senior reporter at The Nation, Surapot Taweesak, an academic and columnist for Prachatai, and Prachatai director Chiranuch Premchaiporn.

On 22 June 2015, Sombat and his lawyer requested that the prosecutors ask six other persons to testify on the case. Among them are are Chatri Prakitnontakan, a lecturer from Silpakorn University, Prateep Ungsongtham Hata, a human rights defender and former elected senator, and Niran  Pitakwachara, a member of  the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) whose term will end this year. Of the six, four so far have testified in the case.

Sombat was one of the first red-shirt activists to be summoned by the military. He was arrested on the night of June 5 2014 at a house in eastern Chonburi Province, where he had been hiding for two weeks.

While he was hiding, he was politically very active in cyberspace. He successfully orchestrated an anti-coup gathering on Sunday June 1 2014 at McDonald’s Ratchaprasong branch where about a thousand people showed up without his presence.

Besides being accused under Article 112, he was detained for nearly a month in Bangkok Remand Prison in June 2014 after his arrest on charges under Article 116 of the Criminal Code for allegedly inciting unrest, Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crimes Act, and for defying a summons from the coup-makers, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).