Court jails Somyot on lese majeste charges

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, former editor of the Voice of Taksin magazine, came to court expecting to be freed, but then learned he faced up to 11 years in jail for two articles deemed defamatory to the King.

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Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, former editor of the Voice of Taksin magazine, flashes a V sign before the verdict in his case at the Criminal Court yesterday. SURAPOL PROMSAKA NA SAKOLNAKORN


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Somyot handed 10 years for lese majeste

Achara Ashayagachat

The 10-year prison sentence handed down to Voice of Taksin editor Somyot Prueksakasemsuk for lese majeste crimes has prompted criticism from human rights groups worldwide.

Rights advocates have denounced the verdict as a major setback for freedom of expression in the country.

The Criminal Court yesterday sentenced Mr Somyot to five years for each of the two charges against him.

He was accused of violating Section 112 of the Criminal Code, also known as the lese majeste law, by publishing two articles in 2010 that were deemed insulting to the royal family.

The court also cancelled the suspension of a previous one-year-jail term imposed on Mr Somyot from a defamation case, raising his sentence to 11 years in prison in total.

His lawyer Karom Polpornklang said he will appeal against the ruling and seek bail.

Mr Somyot's case has attracted the international spotlight as human rights organisations worldwide view it as a violation of free speech and have called for his immediate release.

The courtroom was packed with about 200 observers including diplomats and members of civil society and media.

They were joined by several red shirts who are critical of the way the lese majeste law has been applied.

The articles were written by former PM's Office Minister Jakrapob Penkair under the pseudonym of Jit Polachan and were published in the February and March 2010 editions of the Voice of Taksin magazine.

The four-judge panel said readers would easily understand the articles referred to the King.

The information contained in the article, however, was incorrect and libellous and it was Mr Somyot's duty to vet it, the court said.

Before the court's decision was delivered, Mr Somyot said he hoped he would be able to go back to his family in peace after decades of working for other people.

''After some rest, I will continue to work for the basic rights of all types of detainees, particularly on issues of bail,'' Mr Somyot said. He was himself denied bail 12 times.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International joined local rights groups in denouncing the decision.

HRW and Amnesty said the conviction would further chill freedom of expression.

''The courts seem to have adopted the role of chief protector of the monarchy at the expense of the right of free expression,'' Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said.

Amnesty's Asia-Pacific deputy director Isabelle Arradon urged authorities to release Somyot and all other prisoners of conscience without conditions.

editor – a person who is in charge of a newspaper, magazine, etc, or part of one, and who decides what should be included บรรณาธิการ
verdict – a decision by a court of law คำพิพากษา
Criminal Court – a court which hears criminal cases, i.e., cases where people are accused of breaking a law and where punishment involves going to jail. ศาลอาญา
sentence – a punishment given by a court of law การตัดสินลงโทษ
lese majeste – the crime of offending, threatening or showing disrespect for a member of the royal family หมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพ
prompt – to cause something to happen or be done ก่อให้เกิด
criticism – comments that show that you think something is wrong or bad การวิจารณ์
human rights – the basic rights which it is generally considered all people should have, such as justice and the freedom to say what you think สิทธิมนุษยชน
advocate – someone who strongly and publicly supports someone or something ผู้สนับสนุน
denounce – to criticise someone or something severely in public ประณาม, ติเตียน
setback – something that happens which delays or prevents a process from advancing การหยุดยั้งการก้าวหน้า,ความล้มเหลว,การถอยหลัง
expression – things that people say, write or do in order to show their feelings, opinions and ideas การแสดงความคิด, การแสดงออก
charge – an official statement accusing someone of committing a crime ข้อกล่าวหา
violate – to do something that is against a law, rule or agreement ฝ่าฝืน, ละเมิด
Criminal Code – the systems of laws dealing with crimes and their punishment ประมวลกฎหมายอาญา
publish – to produce a book, magazine, CD-ROM, etc. and sell it to the public จัดพิมพ์
deemed – considered เห็นว่า ถือว่า
insult – to say or do something to someone that is rude or offensive พูดแดกดัน, พูดจาบจ้วง
suspension – stopping for a period of time การยกเลิกชั่วคราว, การระงับชั่วคราว
jail term – the length of time a person is required to spend in jail
impose – to force someone to accept something กำหนด,บังคับ
defamation – the offence of writing or saying something bad about someone that is not true and makes people have a bad opinion of them การใส่ร้าย
appeal – to make a request that a court change a decision of a lower court ยื่นอุทธรณ์
ruling – a decision by a court of law คำตัดสิน คำชี้ขาด
bail – money that is given to a court when someone is allowed to stay out of prison until their trial. If they do not return for the trial, the court keeps the money  เงินประกัน; การประกันตัว
spotlight – the centre of public attention จุดสนใจของผู้คน, เป็นที่สนใจ
immediate – happening or done now, without any delay ทันทีทันใด
release – allowing someone to go free การปล่อยตัว
observer – a person who watches and analyses a situation ผู้สังเกตการณ์
diplomat – an official whose job is to represent their government in a foreign country นักการทูต
civil – non-government พลเรือน
media – radio, television, newspaper, the Internet, considered as a group สื่อ
critical – expressing disapproval of somebody/something and saying what you think is bad about them ซึ่งติเตียน
apply – to make use of something นำมาใช้
pseudonym – a name used by somebody, especially a writer, instead of their real name นามปากกา
panel – a group of people who make decisions or judgments คณะกรรมการ
libellous – involving the act of printing a statement about somebody that is not true and that gives people a bad opinion of them เป็นการหมิ่นประมาท,เป็นการใส่ร้าย
duty – something that you have to do because it is part of your job, or something that you feel is the right thing to do หน้าที่, ความรับผิดชอบ
vet – to examine something in order to decide if it is allowed ตรวจสอบ
decade – a period of ten years  ทศวรรษ
issue – a problem that needs to be considered ประเด็น
detainee – someone who is kept in prison  ผู้ที่ถูกกักขัง คุมขัง
amnesty – a situation in which a government agrees not to punish people who have committed a crime การนิรโทษกรรม
conviction – when someone is officially found to be guilty of a particular crime การพิสูจน์ว่ากระทำผิด
chill – to cause someone to feel extremely frightened or worried  ทำให้กลัว ทำให้ขนลุก
role – the position or purpose that someone or something has in a situation, organisation, society or relationship บทบาท
the monarchy – the king or queen and their family in a particular country สถาบันกษัตริย์
deputy – a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation รอง
urge – to advise someone very strongly about what action or attitude they should take ผลักดัน, กระตุ้น
authorities – people who have the power to make decisions or enforce the law เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
conscience – the part of your mind that tells you whether your actions are right or wrong สัมปชัญญะ
condition – something that must be done before another thing can happen เงื่อนไข

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