Thai activist sentenced to twenty-eight years for on-line posts on king

BANGKOK (AP) — A court docket in Thailand sentenced a 27-year-old political activist to twenty-eight years in jail on Thursday for posting messages on Fb that it stated defamed the nation’s monarchy, whereas two younger ladies charged with the identical offense continued a starvation strike after being hospitalized.

The court docket within the northern province of Chiang Rai discovered that Mongkhon Thirakot violated the lese majeste regulation in 14 of 27 posts for which he was arrested final August. The regulation covers the present king, his queen and heirs, and any regent.

The lese majeste regulation carries a jail time period of three to fifteen years per incident for insulting the monarchy, however critics say it’s usually wielded as a software to quash political dissent. Scholar-led pro-democracy protests starting in 2020 brazenly criticized the monarchy, beforehand a taboo topic, resulting in vigorous prosecutions beneath the regulation, which had beforehand been comparatively not often employed.

Since November 2020, in accordance with Thai Attorneys for Human Rights, a authorized assist group, at the least 228 folks, together with 18 minors, have been charged with violating the regulation, even because the protest motion withered attributable to arrests and the difficulties of conducting protests throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chiang Rai court docket discovered that 13 messages posted by Mongkhon, a web based clothes service provider, didn’t violate the regulation as a result of they associated to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the daddy of present King Maha Vajiralongkorn, or didn’t point out a particular royal determine. Mongkhon was discovered responsible and sentenced to a few years in jail for every of the opposite 14 posts. The 42-year complete jail time period was decreased by one third, to twenty-eight years, due to Mongkhon’s cooperation with the court docket.

Mongkhon was granted launch on bail whereas his case in on enchantment, beneath the situations that he doesn’t have interaction in acts that injury the monarchy or go away the nation.

Prosecutions beneath the lese majeste regulation have not too long ago drawn elevated public consideration due to a jail starvation strike by two feminine activists charged with the offense.

The 2, Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon and Orawan “Bam” Phupong, had been free on bail however introduced earlier this month that they had been revoking their very own launch to return to jail in solidarity with others held pending trial on the identical cost. They issued calls for together with reform of the justice system, the discharge of political prisoners and the restoration of civil liberties by abolishing laws such because the lese majeste regulation.

After three days again in jail, they started a starvation strike by which they don’t seem to be consuming both meals or liquids, a life-threatening tactic. On Tuesday they had been transferred from the jail hospital to a state hospital with higher amenities.

As their strike continued, supporters staged small protests.

The opposition Transfer Ahead Occasion, which has been providing assist, has proposed amending the lese majeste regulation, however no motion has been taken in Parliament.

The proposal would scale back the punishment for defaming the king to a most of 1 yr in jail and a advantageous of as much as 300,000 baht ($9,160), whereas an offense towards the queen, the king’s heirs or the regent could be topic to a most six-month jail time period and a advantageous of as much as 200,000 baht ($6,100).

“The whole Thai justice system has an issue and so does the enforcement of the lese majeste regulation, which can also be used as a political software. Thailand has to unravel this and make its distorted justice system higher,” stated Pita Limjaroenrat, the celebration’s chief.

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