A man with mental health problems has been sentenced to 12 years in jail for criticising the Thai royal family.
The 29 year old man, called Punyaphat, made a number of posts on the Royalist Marketplace Facebook group questioning the popularity of the Thai royal family, and King Vajiralongkorn’s frequent trips to Germany.
Siwapan Manitkul, a managing director of a local sports company, reported Punyaphat’s comments to the police, and as a consequence was charged under Section 112 of the nation’s criminal code, also known as lèse majesté laws. Siwapan is known to have reported at least 9 others for alleged defamation of the Thai royal family in social media posts in 2020.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported that the Samut Prakan Provincial Court ruled that 4 posts made by Punyaphat on the Royalist Marketplace platform, on 9 and 10 May 2020, were intended to cause hatred against the king and queen, and the posts were false and defamed the King.
He was sentenced to 12 years in prison by the court for royal defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act. The sentence was later reduced to 6 years because the accused confessed.
Punyaphat’s mother revealed her son suffers from an attention deficit disorder and shows obsessive-compulsive behaviour. She also said that he can only communicate on a limited basis, cannot control himself in stressful situations, or leave the house by himself. She added he must be under the care of his family at all times, and can not find work because of his illness.
The court, however, was satisfied that Punyaphat could contest the charges, and there was no need for him to see a psychiatrist because he can talk about it himself.
The non-profit organisation iLaw reported that a probation officer report did not mention Punyaphat’s mental illness, even though his lawyers used his mental state to fight the charges. His condition was also reported to be the reason Punyaphat and his family decided to confess since he appears to have communication and personality issues.
Punyaphat’s lawyers posted bail to appeal the charges and added that sending him to prison would prevent treatment for his mental condition.
He was released on bail using 225,000 baht security.
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