Thai man faces record 50-year sentence for royal defamation

A Thai man from Chiang Rai faces an unprecedented 50 year imprisonment sentence for royal defamation. This comes after the Court of Appeal added to his existing convictions, according to a report by Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) released on today.

The sentence, delivered to 30 year old Mongkol Busbas Thirakot, is reportedly the longest ever served for offences under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, also known as the lese-majeste law. This information was disclosed by the lawyers’ group in a recent social media post.

The previous record was held by Anchan Preelert, a former senior Revenue Department official, who was convicted in January 2021. Anchan was sentenced to an 87 year jail term for breaching Section 112 and the Computer Crime Act with defamatory posts about the monarch across several social media platforms. However, her sentence was later halved to 43 years, following her confession.

Convictions under Section 112 result in a minimum of three years in prison and can extend up to 15 years per charge.

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Mongkol, an activist and online clothing merchant, is preparing to submit a bail request to the Supreme Court, his legal representatives confirmed.

The appeal court found Mongkol guilty of an additional 11 counts of lese-majeste, in addition to the 14 convictions from the Court of First Instance in January 2023. These charges were linked to a total of 27 posts he had made on Facebook.

The appeal court issued a sentence of three years for each count, amounting to a total of 33 years. However, due to the provision of useful information, the judges reduced the sentence by one-third to 22 years. Last year, the Court of First Instance delivered a sentence totalling 42 years but later reduced it to 28 years. When combined, the prison terms now total 50 years.

Mongkol was apprehended in April 2021, after he initiated a hunger strike in Chiang Rai to demand bail rights for political prisoners facing similar charges.

TLHR data, up to the end of last year, indicates that since the inception of the Free Youth protests in July 2020, 1,938 individuals have been prosecuted for political participation and expression. Of these, at least 262 are confronting lese-majeste charges under Section 112, and 138 have been indicted with sedition under Section 116.

In December alone, nine cases under Section 116 were presented before the courts, all of which were dismissed, reported Bangkok Post.

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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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