Student Sentenced To Jail For Insulting Monarchy on Facebook

A demonstration against Thailand's lese majeste law in front of the Government House on 15 May 2012.

BANGKOK — A 24-year-old student has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for insulting the Thai monarchy on social media.

Thailand’s criminal court found Akradet Eiamsuwan guilty of violating Section 112 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits defaming Thailand's royal family, for comments he posted on Facebook in March. 

Akradet was also convicted of violating the Computer Crime Act, which penalises dissemination of "false information" and libelous remarks through a computer system.

The court initially sentenced Akradet to five years in prison, but reduced his sentence to two and a half years after he confessed to the allegation. 

However, the judge refused to suspend his jail sentence, claiming that his offence was  "a grave threat that does not warrant a suspended punishment."

It is not immediately clear whether Akradet will appeal the verdict. 

Insulting the monarchy, known as lese majeste, carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. Defendants in lese majeste cases are often denied bail while awaiting trial, as was the case with Akradet, who was refused bail five times.

Two theatre activists also in their twenties have been held in Bangkok prisons for more than 70 days over recent charges of lese majeste for staging a play about a fictional monarch.  

Lese majeste accusations and charges in Thailand have been on the rise since Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, a hardline royalist, seized power on 22 May. Gen. Prayuth has also given martial courts jurisdiction over lese majeste cases on the grounds that insulting the monarchy constitutes a threat to national security. 

 

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