BANGKOK — A prominent student activist in prison for lese-majeste was given a royal pardon Friday in the leadup to the King’s coronation.
Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattararaksa is one of approximately 50,000 criminals that received a royal pardon in the run up to Rama X’s coronation this weekend. The pardon cuts Pai’s jail time down by more than a month.
Prim Boonpattararaksa, Pai’s mother, said Friday she immediately called Khon Kaen prison upon hearing the news that there would be criminal pardons. She then found out that her son’s name was on the pardon list.
“I’m so happy,” Prim said, her voice trembling on the phone Friday. “When he gets home, the first thing he should do is rest. I want my son to come home and rest. Then maybe later we can take a family trip, or something.”
Pai is expected to leave prison within a week. However, Prim said she is afraid that bureaucracy and paperwork could delay his release further – possibly even until the end of his original sentence, June 19 of this year.
The pro-democracy activist was originally sentenced to two and a half years in prison in August 2017 for sharing a BBC Thai biography about Rama X.
In March, he was acquitted for protesting against the junta’s draft constitution in 2016.
The pardons also cover leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, or the Yellowshirts: Maj. Gen. Chamlong Srimuang, Pipob Thongchai, Somkiat Pongpaiboon, Somsak Kosaisuk and Suriyasai Katasila. The five were sentenced to eight months in prison on Feb. 13 for seizing Government House during the 2008 protests.
Yellowshirt leader Sondhi Limthongkul was not pardoned since he is embroiled in a larger number of criminal cases, which include fraud.
Boonsong Teriyapirom, former commerce minister under PM Yingluck Shinawatra, also missed out on being pardoned due to counts of corruption. So did Tharit Pengdit, former chief of the Department of Special Investigation, who was sentenced to a year in jail in December for defaming conservative firebrand Suthep Thaugsuban.