Fortune teller accused of lèse majesté dies in custody

A well-known fortune teller accused under the lèse majesté law of making false claims about the monarchy for personal benefit has died in custody.

Gen Paiboon Kumchaya, the Minister of Justice, on Monday, 9 November 2015, announced that Suriyan Sucharitpolwong, aka Mo Yong, a well-known fortune-teller, died in custody at the remand facility in the 11th Army Division on Nakhon Chaisri road, Bangkok.

The Justice Minister said that he was sent to a prison hospital after suffering serious health problems and died on Friday, 6 November 2015.

The Minister further told the media that an autopsy conducted jointly by the Corrections Department, police, military, and doctors concluded that the late fortune teller died from septicaemia.  

The fortune teller’s death comes shortly after Pol Maj Prakrom W., an inspector in the Technology Crime Suppression Division charged in the same case, reportedly committed suicide by hanging on 23 October 2015.

Suriyan, Prakrom, and Jirawong W., Suriyan’s close associate, were detained on 21 October 2015.

The three were accused by the Thai military under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, for making false claims about the Thai monarchy in order to solicit money from major business operators while taking part in organising ‘Bike for Mom’, a cycling event to honour HM the Queen on 16 August 2015 and an upcoming event ‘Bike for Dad’, a similar event for HM the King in December.

On Sunday, the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) legal division filed a lèse majesté complaint against Col Kotchachat Boondee for involvement in the same case as the late fortune teller. 

The Colonel has reportedly fled to Myanmar.

On 16 October 2015, Naewna News Online, reported a rumour that Suriyan had been arrested at his house by police officers on allegations of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law. There were rumours that he was being held incommunicado by the military as he had disappeared from public view.