Trial for poet accused of lèse majesté drags on

After being imprisoned for three years and four months, a military court once again postponed a witness hearing for a poet accused of royal defamation.

On 15 November 2017, the Military Court of Bangkok postponed the trial for Sirapop (surname withheld for privacy concerns), 53, once again as a witness failed to appear to the court.

According to Anon Nampa, human rights lawyer representing the defendant, since he was arrested in June 2014, the court completed only one witness hearing in the case out of 6-7 plaintiff witnesses.

He added that one of the defendant witnesses, Surachai Yimprasert, has already passed away.

The lawyer said that it is as if Sirapop is being pressured to plead guilty like many other suspects accused of violation of Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, since it has been three years and four months that he has been put behind bars.   

Sirapop still maintains that he is innocent. During the first trial in January 2015, Sirapop told Prachatai “I’m still determined to fight for my principles for I believe that I’ve done nothing wrong and apparently according to the law I’m still innocent even though [lèse majesté] suspects like us are usually discriminated against.”

Sirapop was accused of composing and posting lèse majesté poems on his personal blog and Facebook account under the pen name ‘Rung Sila.’ He is charged under Article 112 of the Criminal Code or the lèse majesté law and Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act (for importing illegal content into a computer system).

In November 2016, Bangkok Military Court also found Sirapop guilty of breaching a junta order and sentenced him to 1 year in jail and an 18,000 baht fine.

However, since the defendant cooperated with the investigation process and had never committed a serious crime before, the court reduced the sentence by one-third to 8 months and 12,000 baht and suspended the jail term for two years.

Sirapop (file photo)