BANGKOK – Two activists accused of insulting Thailand’s royal family for participating in a play about a fictional monarch have been formally charged with lese majeste after being held in detention for more than 70 days.
Pornthip Mankong, 25, and Khon Kaen University student Patiwat Saraiyam, 23, were arrested in August for their involvement in “The Wolf Bride,” a play performed at Thamamsat University on October 2013 to commemorate the anniversary of the 14 October popular uprising.
The play allegedly insulted Thailand’s royal family, a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison under Article 112 of Thailand's Criminal Code.
As is common with lese majeste suspects, the court has repeatedly denied the pair’s requests for bail.
According to their defense lawyer, Pawinee Chumsri, the public prosecutor filed official charges against the two activists on Friday and they were indicted in court today.
"After the charges were read, both suspects asked for time to study the charge before give pleas," Pawinee told the AFP.
Patiwat was actor in the play, while Pornthip coordinated the production and played a small role. The play was organized by the now-defunct Prakai Fai Karn Lakorn activist group.
After leading a coup on 22 May, junta chairman and Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha vowed to persecute critics of the monarchy and strictly enforce the Kingdom's lese majeste law.
Several rights organisations, including Amnesty International and the UN, have expressed concern in the spike of lese majeste charges since the coup.
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