The Commission on Jurisdiction of Courts has decided that a lèse majesté suspect accused of mocking the late King’s favourite dog will be tried in a military court.
On 26 June 2017, the Military Court of Bangkok read the verdict of the Commission on Jurisdiction of Courts on the case against Thanakorn S., a 27-year-old man from Samut Prakan Province.
Thanakorn was indicted under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, for clicking ‘like’ and sharing a message mocking Thong Daeng on Facebook. Thong Daeng, now dead, was the late King Bhumibol’s favourite pet.
Along with Article 112, he also faces a charge under Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act. In a separate case, he has been indicted under Article 116 of the Criminal Code, the sedition law, for posting an infographic on the Rajabhakti Park corruption scandal on Facebook.
The Commission on Jurisdiction of Courts concluded that the military court has the jurisdiction to try Thanakorn according to National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Announcements No. 37/2014 and No. 38/2014. In brief, the announcements state that crimes related to national security, including royal defamation, are to be tried by military courts.
The judgement confirmed previous rulings by the Bangkok Military Court and Samut Prakan Provincial Court.
Thanakorn had submitted a request to the military court on 9 June 2016 arguing that he should be tried by a civilian court.
Three days after the coup d’état that took place on 22 May 2014, the military announced that cases related to national security, which includes lèse majesté cases, would fall under the jurisdiction of military courts.
According to iLaw, an advocacy group promoting awareness of human rights laws, military courts tend to hand out heavier sentences than civilian courts.
Thanakorn was arrested at his house in Samut Prakan Province on 8 December 2015 by military and police officers who invoked Section 44 of the Interim Constitution. Section 44 gives the head of the National Council for Peace and Order absolute authority for the purposes of maintaining national security.
Thanakorn was detained for about three months before the Bangkok Military Court granted him bail valued at 500,000 baht.
Thong Daeng's statue at the Dog Care Centre in Hua Hin District of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province (Photo from http://radio.prd.go.th)