Supporters gathered for lèse majesté suspect could be charged: court spokesman

A spokesperson for Thailand’s Court of Justice has warned activists against gathering in front of a criminal court to support a detained lèse majesté suspect, saying they may be liable for criminal charges.

On the evening of 8 January 2016, some 15 people assembled in front of the Ratchada Criminal Court, Bangkok to give moral support to Jatuphat ‘Pai’ Boonpattaraksa, the first person charged with lèse majesté under the reign of King Vajiralongkorn. Many of the participants of the gathering were members of the anti-junta activist group New Democracy Movement (NDM), in which Jatuphat was a key member.

They gathered despite warnings earlier that day from Seupphong Sriphongkun, a spokesperson for the Court of Justice, condemning their plans to gather, Matichon Online reported.

The participants of the gathering could be charged for contempt of court or for causing disturbances in the courthouse area if they are not careful, said Seupphong. He warned activists not to enter the gates of the court or to do anything with the court’s nameplate during the gathering.

One of Jatuphat’s supporters, who requested to remain anonymous, said that the court should grant bail to Jatuphat while he battles the lèse majesté accusation, adding that there are already too many political prisoners in Thailand.

Jatuphat was arrested on 3 December 2016, only two days after King Rama X’s accession. He was accused of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code for sharing on his Facebook account a controversial biography of the King published by BBC Thai.

At first, Khon Kaen Provincial Court granted Jatuphat bail after his arrest. However, the court revoked the bail on 22 December after he posted a satirical message mocking authorities on his Facebook account.

The message leading to the revocation read, “Economy is poor but they (authorities) took my money for bail.”


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