Lèse majesté suspect sentenced to 5 years in closed trial

At a trial held in camera, the Military Court has handed down a five-year jail term to a 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 Tuesday, 21 June 2016, at a hearing held in camera, sentenced Taweesin (surname withheld due to privacy concerns), charged with offences under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, to 10 years imprisonment, iLaw, a human rights advocacy group, reported.

Taweesin was indicted by the military prosecutor under Article 112 for 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 alleged Banpodj Network, and sharing them on Facebook, banpodjthailandclips.simplesite.com, and OKTHAI.com between 2010 to January 2015.

Unlike Hassadin U. and nine others from the alleged Banpodj Network who were initially sentenced in July 2015 to 10 years each in jail with the sentence being later halved to 5 years by the Military Court, Taweesin and Kwanjai (surname withheld due to privacy concerns), chose to fight the case.

After Taweesin recanted his earlier statement and pleaded guilty, the Military Court sentenced him to 10 years in jail, but halved the sentence to five years.

The Military Court denied Taweesin’s petition asking the court to give him lighter sentence, citing the severity of the crime as it is related to the Thai monarchy and national security.

Out of the 11 persons convicted for lèse majesté for involving in the alleged Banpodj Network, most of whom were arrested in early 2015, Kwanjai remains the only suspect who has not yet pleaded guilty.