University lecturer faces 15 years in jail for sharing FB post

The Criminal Court has refused to release a lecturer arrested for sharing a Facebook post written by an academic blacklisted by the junta, despite the defendant promising almost one million baht as surety for bail.

On 9 May 2017, the Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Rd., Bangkok, denied a bail request with a 927,000 baht surety for a university lecturer who requested anonymity accused of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code, lèse majesté law.

The lecturer is one of six people arrested by police and military officers on 29 April 2017 before being taken to the 11 Military Circle in Bangkok.  

They are accused of lèse majesté and violations of the Computer Crime Act for sharing a Facebook post about the missing 1932 revolution plaque posted by Somsak Jeamteerasakul, an academic currently living in self-imposed exile in France.

In denying bail, the court reasoned that if released, the suspect could interfere with the evidence and cited the severity of the case and flight risk.

The court dismissed the suspect’s plea that as the breadwinner of his family he has to take care of his two sons who are in elementary school and has to lecture.  

In addition to Article 112, the suspect is also accused of offences under Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act, which bans the importation of illegal computer content.

The lecturer could face up to 15 years’ imprisonment under the lèse majesté law alone if he is found guilty.

The number of people who have been arrested under Article 112 since the 2014 coup d’état has reached 105, following the arrest of the six on 29 April.

To date, at least 64 individuals are either imprisoned or detained awaiting trial on lèse majesté charges, as it is extremely rare for lèse majesté suspects to be released on bail by the court of justice or the military court.  

Thailand’s lèse majesté law imposes jail terms on those who defame, insult, or threaten the King, the Queen, the Heir to the throne, or the Regent. Persons found guilty of violating Article 112 face prison terms of three to 15 years for each count.

Another of the six, Prawet Praphanukul, a human rights lawyer, could receive up to 157 years in prison if found guilty, as he faces 10 counts of lèse majesté and violations of Article 116 of the Criminal Code, the sedition law.