Renowned royalist accused of lèse majesté postpones hearing accusation

The police have permitted a renowned royalist intellectual accused of lèse majesté to postpone hearing the charges against him.

On 28 February 2017, a defence lawyer representing Sulak Sivaraksa, a renowned royalist and lèse majesté critic, submitted a request to police officers of Chanasongkram Police Station in Bangkok asking for a postponement a hearing about the lèse majesté charges.        

The inquiry officers permitted a postponement for the time being.

In October 2014, Lt Gen Padung Niwatwan and Lt Gen Pittaya Vimalin filed a complaint against Sulak under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law.

The two accused Sulak of defaming a King of 400 years ago during a public speech in a public forum titled ‘Thai History: the Construction and Deconstruction’ on 5 October 2014 at Thammasat University, Bangkok.  

In the speech, Sulak said the legend of the elephant battle between King Naresuan, who ruled the Ayutthaya Kingdom 1590-1605, and a Burmese king was constructed. He also criticized the legendary Ayutthaya king for being cruel. King Naresuan is hailed by the Thai military as a national hero

The case is not the only lèse majesté accusation the well-known intellectual is fighting.

In 2016, Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, Deputy Police Chief, announced that nine people, including Sulak, and two corporations accused of lèse majesté for their involvement in a talk show aired in March 2013 called Tob Jod (The Answers) on Thai PBS, the only public TV channel in Thailand.

Tob Jod on 11-14 March and 18 March 2013 televised a debate on the lèse majesté law featuring Somsak Jeamteerasakul, an academic now in self-imposed exile in Europe, Sulak, Surakiart Sathirathai, former Deputy Prime Minister, and Pol Gen Vasit Dejkunchorn. The show was hosted by Pinyo Trisuriyathamma.

The five persons featured in the debate are among the nine accused.

In August 2015, a Thai military officer also filed another lèse majesté complaint against Sulak for allegedly criticising Kings Rama V and Rama VII, the former Thai monarchs.

Sulak told Prachatai in a video interview that Article 112 is only for the protection of the present monarch, the Queen and the Heir-apparent.

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

Sulak Sivaraksa