Lese Majeste: Prachatai Webboard User Sentenced To Jail

A protester in a rally against Article 112, the "lese majeste" law, which criminalised insults of monarchy

(3 October) The Appeals Court has found a woman guilty of lese majeste (insults of monarchy), overturning the verdict of the lower court which ruled that there was no sufficient evidence to prove her guilt.

Ms. Noppawan Tang-udomsuk has been accused of posting contents defamatory toward the monarchy on the webboard of Prachatai news website in October 2008. She has been charged under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, which criminalise insults of the Royal Family, and computer crime act.

Under the strict Thai lese majeste law, remarks deemed offensive of the Royal Family are punishable by up to 15 years in prison per offence.

The lower court eventually ruled that the evidence presented against her, namely the IP Address, was not sufficient to pinpoint the defendant′s wrongdoing, and subsequently acquitted her of the charges. However, the prosecutors appealed the ruling soon afterwards.

Yesterday, the Appeals Court read out its verdict that, although the prosecutors lacked evidence which clearly proved the defendant as the poster of the offensive comments, officials from the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology have insisted to the court that technical data pointed to the defendant. 

The judges noted that the recorded data of internet connection at the time the comments were posted matched with the defendant′s account and usage time.

Since the prosecutors' witnesses are state officials who "perform their duties in a straightforward manner", the court said, there is no reason to believe the defendant was being unjustly implicated during the investigation.

The court also dismissed the defendant′s insistence that her IP address had been "hacked" by a third party, saying that such interference is not possible.

Therefore, the court sentenced the defendant to 5 years in prison for"defaming, discrediting the monarchy".
       
Ms. Noppawan contested the verdict, and has been released on a bail of 1,000,000 baht.

Previously, Ms. Chiranuch Premchaipon, the editor and webmaster of Prachatai, had been found guilty of lese majeste and sentenced to 2 years of suspended jail term for her failure to erase offensive comments about the monarchy posted on its webboard "quickly enough".

Critics of lese majeste argue that the law′s definition of insults against the monarchy is so vague and sweeping that it virtually penalises any public discussion of the monarchy in Thailand.

 

For comments, or corrections to this article please contact: [email protected]

You can also find Khaosod English on Twitter and Facebook
http://twitter.com/KhaosodEnglish
http://www.facebook.com/KhaosodEnglis