Thai protest leader gets 3-year sentence for lese majeste violation

Image courtesy of Khaosod

The Criminal Court has sentenced a key protest leader to four years in prison for lese-majeste law violation. The verdict was delivered in absentia after the defendant, 28 year old Panupong, also known as Mike Jadnok, failed to appear for the second time in today’s hearing at 10am, at the Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Road.

Panupong, charged with making defamatory statements against the monarchy on his Facebook page, which had over 90,000 followers, was initially informed of the charges on January 25, 2020. Despite denying the allegations throughout, he was granted bail.

However, his failure to show up for the court’s appointment on March 28 of this year led the court to deem his absence as an act of evasion, prompting the issuance of an arrest warrant and a bail bond fine of 95,000 baht and issuing another court hearing for today.

Panupong’s mother, acting with power of attorney, and the bail guarantor were present in court today, but there was no communication from Panupong himself.

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Consequently, the court proceeded to read the verdict behind closed doors. The court found Panupong guilty under Article 112 lese majeste law and the Computer Crimes Act (2007) and sentenced him to four years imprisonment.

The court, citing some mitigating factors, reduced the sentence by one-quarter, resulting in a final three-year incarceration.

Online trail

The case against Panupong stemmed from his online posts between November 8 and December 7, 2020, which the prosecution argued contained content that insulted the royal institution.

The court’s decision, which will be followed by an adjustment to the bail amount and the enforcement of the arrest warrant, has reaffirmed Thailand’s strict stance on protecting the monarchy from defamation, reported Khaosod.

The lese-majeste law, Article 112, is a sensitive and controversial topic in Thailand, with critics arguing that it curtails freedom of speech. Nevertheless, the law is stringently enforced, and violations lead to severe penalties, as evidenced by Panupong’s case.

His sentencing underscores the ongoing tension between Thai authorities and activists who seek to challenge the status quo. His conviction is expected to have a significant impact on the protest movement in Thailand, where the monarchy, a highly revered institution, remains a subject that draws legal boundaries around public discourse.

The use of the lese-majeste law, in this case, is a clear signal of the Thai judicial system’s commitment to maintaining the monarchy’s sanctity as enshrined in law, even as it faces growing scrutiny from certain segments of Thai society and the international community.

Crime NewsThailand News

Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.

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