Royal rumble: Four years behind bars for outspoken lawyer and Thai activist

Arnon Nampa | Photo by Athit Perawongmetha from Reuters.

A prominent Thai activist and lawyer, known for his brazen calls for reforms in Thailand’s monarchy, received a four-year prison sentence today over charges of royal insults, a verdict confirmed by both the judge and his legal counsel.

Arnon Nampa emerged as a notable figure during the pro-democracy demonstrations in 2020, where the Thai activist publicly advocated for a discourse on the role of the King. This topic has long been considered off-limits in Thai society. Despite insisting on his innocence, the controversial lese majeste law in Thailand, which carries a maximum of 15 years in prison for each perceived insult against the monarchy, has led to his sentencing.

Krisadang Nutcharus, his lawyer, told Reuters that efforts are underway to secure the 39 year old’s bail.

This judgement marks the first among 14 lese majeste cases filed against the outspoken Thai activist, who is but one among hundreds of people charged under this law. Arnon Nampa played a key role in the pro-democracy movement led by the youth in 2020, which mobilised hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets of Bangkok.

The protesters demanded the resignation of former Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who assumed power after a coup on May 22, 2014. Additionally, they sought to reform the monarchy and abolish the lese majeste law, Section 112 of the criminal code.

According to the legal aid group, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, a minimum of 257 individuals have been indicted with Section 112 since 2020.

In related news, in May, the second youngest person accused of committing lese majeste in Thailand was released on bail from the Ban Pranee Juvenile Vocational Training Centre for Girls in Nakhon Pathom province.

After her release, she was found to have a rash on her back allegedly caused by unsanitary water at the detention centre, exacerbated by hot weather and mosquito bites. Read HERE to learn more!

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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