Man jailed for selling lèse majesté CDs to be released next month

A man jailed for selling CDs containing an allegedly lèse majesté documentary by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) will be released from jail next month after the Supreme Court reduced his jail term. 
 
The Supreme Court on Friday morning affirmed the guilty verdict of the Appeal Court which found Ekkachai Hongkangwan guilty of lèse majesté for selling the CDs. 
 
The Supreme Court however disagreed with the Appeal Court on the jail term, saying that the sentence by the Appeal Court was too severe. The Supreme Court gave Ekkachai a new prison sentence of four years and reduced it by one third to two years and eight months. Earlier the Appeal Court set the prison term at four years and reduced it to three years and eight months.
 
Ekkachai will be released mid-November when he will have been imprisoned for two years and four months. 
 
The police arrested Ekkachai on March 10, 2011 after inducing him to sell a CD for 20 baht, and seized over 100 CDs, a CD burner and 10 copies of WikiLeaks materials. The police charged him with violating the lèse majesté law and the Film and Video Act. 
 
The problematic CDs contained a documentary aired on ABC’s Foreign Correspondent programme in 2010 which critically discusses Thailand’s monarchy and Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn as the King’s successor. 
 
The alleged Wikileaks documents are US embassy cables from 2008. Cables from 2010 consist of opinions about royal succession from Privy Council Chair Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, Privy Council member ACM Siddhi Savetsila, and former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun, where the judges deemed the content of the materials misleading and defamatory of the monarchy.
 

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