Lèse majesté trial of elderly writer with psychosis continues

The Military Court has ruled to continue the trial of an elderly independent writer accused of defaming the Thai monarchy despite the fact that he has been diagnosed with psychosis.     

iLaw, an internet based human rights advocacy group, reported that on Thursday afternoon, 11 February 2016, a psychiatrist from the Galya Rajanagarindra Institute testified before the Military Court of Bangkok in the case of a 75-year-old independent writer known by his penname Bundit Aneeya, who is accused under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law.

At the hearing, the psychiatrist concluded that from the psychiatric examination, it can be concluded that Bundit suffers from chronic mental illness which causes him to have anxiety, strange logic, and behave in bizarre ways.

Despite this conclusion, the doctor said that Bundit can still continue to stand on trial. Therefore, the Military Court ruled to proceed with the trial.

The trial of Bundit had earlier been halted after only one witness had testified in the case because his defence lawyer submitted a request to the court to have Bundit undergo a medical examination, claiming that the suspect suffers from mental illness.  

In March 2015, military prosecutors indicted Bundit under Article 112 for allegedly making comments about the Thai monarchy at a political seminar.   

Bundit pleaded innocent and vowed to fight the case. He told Prachatai then “I believe I’m innocent and didn’t do anything wrong.”

According to the case filed by the prosecutor, the alleged lèse majesté comment he made was:

“My point is now Thai people are separated into two sides: one which is in favour of a monarchy which does not abide by the law, as the head of the state, …”

He was arrested by the police before he could even finish the sentence.

Bundit was, however, released on 400,000 baht (12,270 USD) bail due to his age and poor health. He is one of the few lèse majesté suspects granted bail by a military court.

The writer, who has been diagnosed with psychosis, has only one kidney and has to carry a urine drainage bag with him all the time.

Earlier in February 2014, the self-taught writer and translator, who has written and translated over 30 books, was found guilty by the Supreme Court under Article 112 for comments at a previous seminar he attended and sentenced to four years in jail, but the jail term was suspended for three years due to his mental illness. The allegedly lèse majesté comment that he made also pointed out the general opinion of Thais toward the monarchy. If convicted again, his jail terms will accumulate.