Citing weak evidence, a Bangkok court has dismissed a l?se majest? charge against a singer-turned-red-shirt activist who made a comparison between Thailand and Denmark, where the King has to stop at traffic lights. His three other royal defamation charges remain, however.
On 29 March 2018, the Criminal Court, Bangkok, acquitted Thanat Thanawatcharanon, 60, also known as Tom Dundee, a former country singer and a red-shirt activist, of a l?se majest? charge. The court gave as its reason that the complaint described by the public prosecutor alone did not prove that the defendant's speech is a violation of Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the royal defamation law. Although Thanat pleaded guilty, the court cannot punish the defendant.
According to iLaw, a human rights advocacy group, this lawsuit is related to Thanat's public speeches at a red shirt rally on 1 May 2011 in Lamphun Province. The public prosecutor charged that his statement constituted l?se majest? when he drew a comparison between Thailand and Denmark, where the King has to stop at traffic lights.
Although the court dismissed the case today, Thanat remains in detention on his three other l?se majest? charges. One of the cases was tried in a military court. He has been in jail since July 2014, and his total prison sentence so far is 10 years and 10 months, making Thanat the individual facing the highest number of l?se majest? charges under the military government.
Thanat pleaded guilty to the royal defamation charge on 13 February, despite previously denying all accusations during the police investigation process. 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.