Factory worker sentenced to jail for royal defamation

A factory worker has been sentenced to 6 years in prison on charges of royal defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act over two of 7 Facebook posts made in late 2020 – early 2021.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that the Narathiwat Provincial Court sentenced Udom (pseudonym), a 34-year-old man who works in an electronic component factory, to 6 years in prison for royal defamation under Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code and bringing into a computer system data which affect national security under Section 14, paragraph 3 of the Computer Crimes Act. However, since he confessed to having made the offending post and owning the Facebook profile page, the Court reduced his sentence to 4 years.

He was later granted bail in order to appeal his case on a security of 15,000 baht, in addition to the original 30,000-baht filed when he was indicted. He must also report to the village chief in his district once every month until the Appeal Court rules on his case.

The complaint against Udom was filed by a man name Phasit Chanhuaton, who TLHR said has filed royal defamation complaints against several people with the police in Sungai Kolok. TLHR also said that noone who was accused of royal defamation by Phasit lives in the south of Thailand and all must travel long distances to attend court hearings. Udom, for example, lives in Prachinburi and has had to travel to Narathiwat 5 times to report to the police and attend court.

The complaint against Udom concerned 7 Facebook posts made between October 2021 – January 2021, one of which was shared from Matichon Online’s Facebook page and another from a Facebook page called KonthaiUk. Udom said that the Facebook profile page was his, and that he made the posts, but the posts were not intended to defame the current King since none of them include a name and can be interpreted as referring to several people.  

The Narathiwat Provincial Court ruled that Udom was guilty of royal defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act for 2 of the 7 posts, and that 4 of the posts do not constitute an offense under the royal defamation law or the Computer Crimes Act, since the royal defamation law does not cover previous kings. The court also ruled that the prosecution could not show who was referred to in one of the posts, and so did not convict Udom for that post.

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