Watana Charged for Writing About Missing Plaque

Watana Muangsook greets reporters Monday at the police's Technology Crime Suppression Division.

BANGKOK — A former Pheu Thai MP was charged Monday with yet another offense for Facebook posts critical of the authorities.

The latest addition in the heap of legal troubles for Watana Muangsook came in response to an April post in which he urged his supporters to look for a historic plaque that was removed under mysterious circumstances. For putting out the call on what became a hypersensitive topic for the military government, he has been charged with sedition, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of seven years in jail.

Watana, 60, already faces counts of sedition and computer crimes due to his criticism of the junta on Facebook. He was charged alongside two other well-known regime critics.

He has denied all allegations, including the fresh accusation of sedition over the plaque. He told reporters Monday that he was writing about the artifact in “academic terms.”

Police also took Watana to the court for a custody hearing. He was granted a bail release in the late afternoon. The court also found him guilty of court contempt on the same day for broadcasting a Facebook Live video from inside the courtroom. Watana was given a one-year suspended jail term for the video.  

Prior to its disappearance, the plaque sat for decades at the Royal Plaza. It commemorated a 1932 revolt that brought an end to absolute monarchy and paved the way for a democratic regime in Thailand.

The plaque was removed some time in early April without any explanation. Questions to the authorities about the disappearance went unanswered, and officials have discouraged media agencies from speculating who might have been responsible for its removal.

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