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Thai Man Sentenced to 18 Years Behind Bars for Insulting Monarchy

Thai Man Sentenced to 18 Years Behind Bars for Insulting Monarchy

Thai Man Sentenced to 18 Years Behind Bars for Insulting Monarchy
August 10
21:44 2017

A 61-year-old Thai man was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Wednesday by a military court for sharing six audio files that were considered offensive to the monarchy, the Japan Times reported.

According to legal monitoring group iLaw, Tara,

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The Southeast Asian country’s use of lèse-majesté law has increased ever since the 2014 Thai coup d’état, during which the Royal Thai Armed Forces dissolved the caretaker government and established a junta called the National Council for Peace and Order. Since then, more than 100 people have been charged with breaking the lèse-majesté law.

Tara was sentenced for spreading audio files produced by covert internet talk show host “DJ Banpodj,” who outwardly criticized the monarchy. “DJ Banpodj” was arrested in 2015, and at least five other people have been similarly charged for sharing the DJ’s productions.

Tara has been held without bail since 2015 and pleaded guilty in hopes of receiving a lesser sentence.

“He accepted the charge against him and has been in custody since 2015 so the court sentenced him to 20 years in prison, minus two years,” Yaowalak Anuphan, head of the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights Center, explained. The penalty per count can be as long as 15 years.

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Tara cannot appeal his sentence because he was arrested while the country was under martial law.

Legal aid group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights says that the military government’s use of lèse-majesté exercises strict political control over its people. The Thai government has taken it so far as to prosecute people who simply “like” or “share” controversial posts on Facebook or mock the monarch’s pets.

“The Thai junta’s dictatorial reach has expanded well beyond traditional sources to social media like Facebook,” Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said on Wednesday.

However, the government has said it endorses these laws for national security purposes.

Award-winning Bangkok columnist Pravit Rojanaphruk was recently charged with sedition and violation of the Computer Crime Act for expressing his criticism of the government online. Pravit, a writer for Khaosod English, who has been very vocal about his disapproval of the military regime, could now face up to seven years in prison.

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Edward Bokhua

Edward Bokhua

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