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Thai Man Gets 20 Years for Royal Defamation

Ministry of Defense building in Bangkok, opposite Temple of the Emerald Buddha

A Thai court Wednesday sentenced a man to 20 years in prison for posting content online deemed as insulting the monarchy, his lawyer said, in the latest case of a person convicted of breaching Thailand’s strict royal defamation law.

The defendant, a 59-year-old herb salesman identified by his lawyer only as Tara, was found guilty by a military court for re-posting on his website audio files of recorded comments by critic of the monarchy, the attorney said. The website promotes herbal medicines.

Tara’s conviction under the so-called Lese-Majeste law came the same day that rights and free-press advocacy groups criticized the filing of sedition charges against a Thai journalist and two prominent political critics for Facebook posts that allegedly criticized the military government.

“Tara was convicted of six counts of Lese-Majeste. He was sentenced to five years for each count. Since he pleaded guilty, the jail term was reduced to 20 years,” lawyer Sasinan Thamnitinan told BenarNews.

“He was a medical herb seller and never got involved in politics,” she said.

Since the junta came to power after a military coup three years ago, at least 82 people have been charged under Lese-Majeste and at least 64 others have been charged for seditious speech, according to iLaw, a local legal advocacy group.

One count of Lese-Majeste carries a sentence of up to 15 years, while a person convicted of one count of sedition can go to prison for seven years. But it is common for Thai courts to reduce sentences if the defendant pleads guilty to the charges.

In June, a Bangkok military court handed the longest recorded Lese-Majeste prison sentence, ordering a Thai man to serve 35 years for Facebook postings that officials had considered as offensive to the monarchy. The original sentence was 70 years.

Full story: BenarNews

Nontarat Phaicharoen
Bangkok

Copyright ©2017, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.

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