Bangkok (AFP) – A Thai man was sentenced to two years in prison on Friday for breaking the country’s strict royal defamation laws by putting a sticker on a portrait of Thailand’s king during major democratic rallies in 2020.
This is the first conviction of lèse-majesté charges linked to the protests, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said, when thousands demonstrated to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha and issued unprecedented calls for the reform of the country’s untouchable monarchy. .
But the movement faltered as the number of Covid-19 cases rose and authorities arrested most of its leaders.
Narin, whose last name has not been released, is among some 160 activists being sued under Royal Thai defamation laws, which carry a prison sentence of up to 15 years per charge.
The Criminal Court jailed him for two years for violating Section 112 of Thailand’s Penal Code after he posted a ‘GuKult’ sticker on King Rama X’s portrait outside Bangkok’s Supreme Court during a rally in September 2020 .
“GuKult” is a satirical and protesting Facebook page.
“This could be an example of pursuing the other 112 cases in the future,” said TLHR’s Kittisak Kongthong, defending the 31-year-old.
He noted that the case had been “rushed” with the court ordering “no testimony from academics and the plaintiff”.
Narin’s sentence was reduced from three to two years and he can appeal within 30 days. He was released on bail of 100,000 baht ($3,000).
He still faces at least two other lèse-majesté charges, according to his lawyer.
The sentencing comes after a number of prominent pro-democracy protest leaders were released on bail last month.
Parit Chiwarak, better known in Thailand by his nickname “Penguin”, faces 23 lèse-majesté charges but was allowed to be freed before his trial on February 24.
A few days later, Anon Numpa, 37, a prominent Thai human rights lawyer, was also released on bail.
© 2022 AFP