Blind l?se majest? convict faces new cybercrime charge

After an unknown guarantor bailed her out on a royal defamation charge in January, a blind woman in Yala has been sentenced to another jail term for breaking the Computer Crimes Act.
On 13 May 2018, Nahita (surname withheld due to privacy concerns), revealed that her sister, Nuruhayati Masoe, has been imprisoned since early March for violating the controversial Computer Crimes Act.
According to Nahita, on 5 March, the public prosecutor indicted Nuruhayati on the cybercrime charge for posting on Facebook a link to a radio programme hosted by red-shirt activists on 10 October 2016. The prosecutor claimed that her action caused public panic and threats to national security. The court sentenced her to two years in prison but halved the sentence because she pleaded guilty.
This is the second time that Nurhayati, who is 23 years old and blind, has been given a prison sentence after she faced a previous jail term for a royal defamation charge.
In January 2018, the Provincial Court of Yala sentenced Nuruhayati to three years in prison for violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the l?se majest? law. She was charged for sharing an article by Giles Ji Ungpakorn, an academic and political activist who fled Thailand to the UK after facing a royal defamation charge. Because she pleaded guilty, the court halved the jail term to one year and six months.
During the appeal, however, an unknown guarantor offered bail for Nuruhayati. The lawyer and her family confirmed that they did not know who the bail guarantor is or how much the bail was.
In February 2018, the Court of Appeal acquitted her of all charges, reasoning that the defendant was totally blind and had been enrolled in a blind school for only two years. The judge believed that Nuruhayati posted the message without knowing that it constituted l?se majest?.
Another significant feature of her case is that the court ruled that the royal defamation charge is a malum prohibitum (an action that is a crime only because it is prohibited by law), not a malum in se (an action that is a crime because it is inherently wrong), which is very rare in l?se majest? prosecutions.
A month after being acquitted, however, she has now been found guilty of violating the Computer Crimes Act.
Illustration by Khai Maew