Military court sentences elderly man to 4 years in jail over lèse majesté audio clips

The Military Court has handed down an eight-year jail term for an elderly man charged with lèse majesté for uploading and sharing audio clips from the so-called anti-monarchy Banpodj Network.

The Military Court of Bangkok on Monday, 28 December 2015, during an in camera deposition hearing, sentenced Tanitsak (surname withheld due to privacy concerns), a 50-year-old photographer’s assistant in a news crew from Isan, Thailand’s Northeast, to eight years in prison under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law.

The Military Court judges, however, halved the jail term to four years since the defendant pleaded guilty as charged.

The military prosecutors indicted Tanitsak under the lèse majesté law, Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act (importation of illegal online information), and Article 83 of Criminal Code as a criminal accomplice.

He was charged with uploading audio clips with lèse majesté content recorded by Hassadin U., aka DJ Banpodj, a well-known red-shirt radio host at the centre of the Banpodj Network, and sharing them on Facebook, banpodjthailandclips.simplesite.com, and OKTHAI.com between 2010 to January 2015.

The convict was arrested on 25 April 2015 in the northeastern province of Chaiyaphum and has remained in custody since.

Tanitsak pleaded guilty at the time of his arrest and never submitted a bail request to the military court. He said that he does not want to be a burden for his only sister.

“If we are going to fight we also have to think of the stage, [they’re] heavyweight boxers in comparison to me who is as light as shredded pork. I can’t fight anyway,” said Tanitsak

A total of 14 people were arrested for their alleged involvement in the Banpodj Network. They were separated into two groups of 12 and two, each group facing different charges. Two of the 12 who were indicted with Article 112 decided to fight the case, while 10 pleaded guilty. The verdicts for the 10 were read on 14 July 2015.

Hassadin or ‘DJ Banpodj’ is among the 10 who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in jail for violations of the lèse majesté law and Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act.

Meanwhile, two of the 14 persons of the alleged Banpodj Network initially arrested, including Hassadin's wife, were not found guilty of lèse majesté, but guilty of supporting the activity of the network.