Leading anti-junta activist’s mother released after lèse majesté indictment

The Thai military prosecutor has officially indicted the mother of a prominent anti-junta activist under the lèse majesté law. She was later released on half a million baht bail.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that the military prosecutor on Monday, 1 August 2016, officially indicted Patnaree Chankij, 40, mother of the well-known anti-junta activist Sirawit Serithiwat, under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law.

The indictment came despite the fact that the police earlier decided to drop the case and refused to prosecute her.

After the indictment, the Military Court granted her 500,000 baht bail. If convicted, Patnaree could face up to 15 years in prison.

She is accused under Article 112 for replying to a Facebook message from Burin Intin deemed to be lèse majesté by texting ‘ja’ (Human Rights Watch translated this word as a non-committal, colloquial ‘yes’ in the Thai language) which according to the authorities shows that she accepted or agreed with the message and failed to report Burin to the authorities.

The arrest of Patnaree in May triggered outrage from many anti-junta activists and international human rights advocates, who promptly condemned the Thai authorities for the arrest.

According to BBC Thai, at a 7 May press conference, Pol Col Olan Sukkasem of the Technology Crime Suppression Division said that there was more evidence in the case while Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Thai junta leader and Prime Minister, said that the arrest was not motivated by politics and there was more evidence to prosecute Patnaree for lèse majesté.

Up to now, however, the authorities have not presented any other evidence in the case.

Patnaree Chankij (source: BBC Thai)