Military court detains man for posting images of Crown Prince

A military court in northern Thailand has detained a man accused of defaming the Thai Crown Prince.

On 11 October 2016, the Military Court of the northern province of Chiang Rai granted police permission to detain Sarawut (surname withheld due to privacy concerns), a 32-year-old optometrist.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), the police summoned Sarawut to hear accusations against him on 11 October. He is accused of breaking Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, for allegedly posting two images of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn deemed defamatory to the Thai Monarchy.

Along with the lèse majesté law, he is also accused of offences under Article 14 (3) and (5) of the 2007 Computer Crime Act, a law against the importation of illegal online content.

After reading the accusations, the police took Sarawut to the military court to request custody, reasoning that the interrogation process on the case is not yet complete.  

Though Sarawut’s lawyer told the court judges that his client has to take care of his sons — the older being 5 years old while the younger is only 3 months old — the military court granted custody permission to the police.

The suspect later submitted a bail request with a land title deed valued at 400,000 baht as surety, but the court denied bail citing flight risk and the severity of the charges.

Investigation into Sarawut began when soldiers from the 37th Military Circle of Chiang Rai filed a complaint under Article 112 against Sarawut on 21 July 2016.

After the complaint was filed, the police confiscated Sarawut’s electronic devices with a search warrant on 26 August 2016 before sending them to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD).

The notorious lèse majesté law or Article 112 of the Criminal Code clearly states, "Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, Heir-apparent or Regent shall be punished [with] imprisonment of three to fifteen years."