Mentally ill man prosecuted for posts about King Rama IX commits suicide

Nathee (family name withheld), who was on bail pending an appeal against a conviction for expressing opinions about King Rama IX on Facebook, was found dead in a canal on 13 April after succeeding in his third suicide attempt. Doctors and his father testified that he was mentally ill, but this was still not enough to escape conviction.

Original photo source: Wikipedia

The suicide took place on 12 April, and the body was found in the next afternoon. Nathee had tried to committed suicide twice before but had been rescued.

Nathee, 28 years old at that time, was arrested in September 2018, over 2 Facebook posts in 2016. The first expressed his own opinion of wanting to teach King Rama IX about being enthusiastic about a ‘glass half-full’. The second made a joke out of the license plate number of the late King’s car.

In fact, the 'glass half-full' word did not came from the King Rama IX. In 2005, The Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary explained that the word came from a book 'Life's Little Instruction', written by H. Jackson Brown  and translated to Thai in 1996.

As the word was widely publicized, The Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary said that such acts cause misunderstanding to people. (Source:Post Today)

He was charged by the police under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, and the Computer Crime Act. Later, the charges were changed to violations of the Computer Crime Act and Article 116 of the Criminal Code on sedition.

In December, 2019, Nathee was found guilty under the Computer Crime Act and sentenced to 3 years in prison, reduced to 2 years because the court found his testimony useful. However, the court ruled that Nathee had not proved his defence that he was incapable of controlling himself and unaware that he was violating the law when committing the offence.

He was on bail pending an appeal when he committed suicide. His reasons for committing suicide are as yet unknown.

The case would originally be heard in a military court as the lèse majesté law is regarded as related to national security and all such cases were sent to the military courts after the 2014 coup d’état until September 2019.

However, as the lèse majesté charge was not filed, Nathee's case was heard in the criminal court.

Mental illness, not enough to dismiss the case

Nathee said that he had bipolar disorder. He claimed that he would be in a normal state of mind until he surfed the net. He would then become angry and uncontrollable, feeling that his nervous system was connected to the internet signal.

In that state, he would post many messages, which he would later delete when his anger subsided.

The court verdict shows that doctors had diagnosed Nathee with a mental disorder and that treatment would take a long time. His father also testified that Nathee had been under treatment with Decha Hospital since before he committed the offence.

During testimony, Nathee pleaded that he made the 2 posts while he was unable to control himself and unaware that was violating the law.

He also testified that he thought of himself as a Buddha and that his body was dominated by an extra-terrestrial being.

The court dropped the sedition charge as Nathee’s act did not cause any unrest. However, he was guilty of uploading data which is an offence related to national security. The posts that were made public were likely to cause damage to the institution of the monarchy which is highly respected by the people, and amounted an offence against national security.

Nathee said that his parents separated when he was 13 years old. He lived with his father until he was 26. He left home when he learned about an arrest warrant against him from a relative who works in the military. He rented a house until he was arrested.

Source: 
https://prachatai.com/journal/2020/04/87220

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