Lèse majesté cases spike to 20 since King’s death

Police have investigated 20 cases of lèse majesté since the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej on 13 October 2016, according to a spokesperson from the Royal Thai Police.  
 
On 26 October 2016, Pol Col Krisana Phatthanacharoen, deputy spokesman for the Royal Thai Police, stated that most offences come in the form of social media posts deemed defamatory to the monarchy. 
 
Suspects accused of lèse majesté posts during recent witch hunts in Surat Thani, Rayong and Chonburi provinces have already been detained under charges related to Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law. Officials have refused bail in all three cases.
 
In the aftermath of another witch-hunt in Phang Nga, provincial police have announced a criminal case against a seaman employed by the Royal Thai Navy for a Facebook message deemed defamatory to the monarchy. The seaman also faces disciplinary action by the Navy.
 
Krisana added that the authorities are prioritising the prosecution of those with a criminal record in order to prevent incidents from occurring again. Cases emerge both from active police investigations and from reports filed by members of the general public.
 
Investigations have been coordinated by various relevant bodies, under either Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society or military intelligence agencies.
 
The spokesperson added that the police have not received official reports of lèse majesté cases from Maj Gen Rienthong Nanna,the leader of an ultra-royalist vigilante group Rubbish Collection Organisation. 
 
Rienthong has regularly revealed personal information of lèse majesté offenders on his Facebook account before it was closed down on 24 October. He is currently active on the Rubbish Collection Organisation’s Facebook page.