Red Shirt gets 30 months suspended jail term for posting fake royal statement

A military court has sentenced an anti-establishment red shirt accused of publishing a fake royal statement to five years imprisonment, reduced to 2 years and half after a guilty plea, with the jail term suspended.

The Bangkok Military Court on Monday, 19 October 2015, sentenced Krit B. to five years in prison for offences under Article 112 of the Criminal Crime Code, the lèse majesté law, and Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act for importing illegal computer content.

The defendant was indicted for publishing a forged statement of the Bureau of the Royal Household, which stated that King Bhumibol had decided to appoint a Regent to act on his behalf.  

The sentence was read right after Krit recanted his innocent plea and pleaded guilty. As a result, the military court halved the jail term to two years and six months, suspended for three years.

The military court’s verdict is the same as the sentence given to Niran Yaowapa, a former editor of ASTV Manager Online, a yellow-shirt news outlet, who was also charged under the lèse majesté law for publishing the same document.

The former editor, who was demoted after he was charged, was also given a five year term, halved and suspended for three years.  

The Military Court on 10 February 2015 approved custody warrants for Niran and Krit B., who is an active member of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), the main faction of the anti-establishment red shirts.

While the military court then granted 2.9 million baht bail to Niran on the same day that the custody warrant was issued, citing that there was no flight risk, Krit was held in custody for two weeks.  

Krit and his defence lawyer, Winyat Chatmontree from Free Thai Legal Aid, submitted a 400,000 baht bail request, but the court denied bail, citing flight risk and the severity of the case.

The Court’s decision to grant bail to the yellow-shirt suspect, but not to the red-shirt suspect charged with the same offences was highly criticised as biased, and the Military Court later granted 400,000 baht bail to Krit on 17 February 2015.  

The red shirt was arrested by more than ten military and police officers at his house in central Phetchabun Province on 3 February 2015. The officers interrogated him at a nearby police station for around three hours before searching the houses of two of his friends. Krit was then detained at a military camp for seven days before being detained at the Bangkok Central Remand Prison for another seven days.