Embattled lèse majesté suspect accused of disrespecting military court

A military court has accused a lèse majesté suspect of disrespecting the court for arguing that the courts have a role in defending democracy and resisting Thailand’s coup-makers.  

According to Anon Nampa, a human rights lawyer, the Military Court of Bangkok ordered his client Sirapop (surname withheld for privacy), 52, to amend certain parts of his closing statement, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported. In his statement, Sirapop argued that the court should interpret and enforce the law in ways which align with democratic principles and the rule of law.  

Sirapop is a suspect under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law. He was also indicted for violating the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 44/2014 and the NCPO’s announcements No. 37/2014 and 41/2014 for not reporting to the military after the 2014 coup d’état.

Anon said that the military court judges ordered his client to amend his closing statement because some of its contents was disrespectful to the court.

Sirapop’s statement read, “If judicial authorities do not serve the principles of the law under a democratic society and the people, but accept the authorities of the coup-makers, who came to power by illegal means, then the judicial system and the rule of law will be destroyed.”

He concluded in the statement that the NCPO’s orders to summon him and others, most of which are political dissidents, are unlawful and that it is coup-makers themselves who should be prosecuted under Article 113 of the Criminal Code. Coups are considered as a crime against the state under this article.

Anon said that he will consult with Sirapop about the court’s reaction to the statement and will submit his client’s closing statement again on 4 October 2016.

Sirapop was arrested on 25 June 2014 in northeastern Kalasin Province, while he was attempting to flee to a neighbouring country.

After being detained for seven days, he was accused of posting messages deemed as constituting lèse majesté on the Internet. He has since been detained in the Bangkok Remand Prison. The military court has repeatedly denied him bail, citing flight risk and the severity of the charge.

During the first trial in January 2015, Sirapop told Prachatai “I’m still determined to fight for my principles for I believe that I’ve done nothing wrong and apparently according to the law I’m still innocent even though [lèse majesté] suspects like us are usually discriminated against.”

The defendant, who is the father of three with his youngest child still in high school, could face up to 45 years imprisonment if he is found guilty.

Sirapop (surname withheld due to privacy concerns)