Tom Dundee faces fourth lèse majesté charge

A singer-turned-red-shirt-activist has pleaded guilty to a fourth lèse majesté charge for comparing Thailand with Denmark, where the King has to stop at traffic lights.
 
On 13 February 2018, the Bangkok Criminal Court tried Thanat Thanawatcharanon, 60, whose stage name is Tom Dundee, on a charge of lèse majesté, a violation of Article 112 of the Criminal Code, for a speech at a red-shirt rally in 2011 in Lamphun Province.
 
According to the prosecutor, Thanat’s speech constituted lèse majesté when he drew a comparison between Thailand and Denmark, where the King has to stop at traffic lights.
 
“The speech can be understood to be referring to King Rama IX, and makes ordinary people have negative thoughts towards the monarchy,” stated the prosecutor.
 
Thanat pleaded guilty to the royal defamation charge, despite previously denying all accusations during the police investigation process. The court will read the verdict on 16 February. 
 
Thanat has been indicted on three other lèse majesté charges for defaming the monarchy in speeches at anti-establishment red-shirt rallies. One of the charges was heard in a military court. He has been in jail for over three years and his total sentence so far is 10 years and 10 months in prison. 
 
Thanat’s wife told Prachatai that the singer still wished to fight the case after the third charge, but the fourth charge changed his mind. He pleaded guilty because he wants the prosecution to end as soon as possible, and hopes for a royal pardon in the future.
 
Update: the Bangkok Criminal Court has postponed reading the verdict to 29 March. 
 
 
Thanat Thanawatcharanon under custody (file photo)