Mobs pressure police to make lese majeste arrests

Mobs pressure police to make lese majeste arrests

Soldiers and police had to disperse a persistent mob at Phuket who demanded instant justice for a man they claimed insulted King Bhumibol. (AP photo)
Soldiers and police had to disperse a persistent mob at Phuket who demanded instant justice for a man they claimed insulted King Bhumibol. (AP photo)

Police on Sunday charged a woman with royal defamation after a Koh Samui mob demanded action over a Facebook post allegedly defaming the heir and regent.

It was the second mob in two days in the South demanding summary justice for alleged lese majeste offences. An angry mob descended on a soy milk factory in Phuket last Friday to demand the arrest of the son of the owner. Military and civilian police eventually dispersed the mob without injuries or arrests.

The woman, who has not been named by police, was accused of posting a derogatory statement on Facebook last Friday, the day after the death of King Bhumibol was announced.

Bophut district police chief Thewes Pleumsud gave no details, but confirmed the woman's arrest on charges that she had violated Section 112 of the Criminal Code, concerning lese majeste.

"She did not post against the late King", said Pol Maj Thewes. "It involved the heir and the regent" pro tempore, Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, he said.

The arrest and charges were a direct result of mob action. An angry mob descended on Bophut police station on Sunday demanding the woman be charged.

The crowd then hurled insults at the woman, according to videos widely shared on Facebook.

The videos showed the unidentified women publicly prostrating herself in apology before a portrait of the late king.

It was the second mob action reported since the death of King Bhumibol.

Last Friday, police had to call military reinforcements to disperse a large mob seeking instant justice for an alleged lese majeste case in Yaowarat Road of Phuket town's Muang district.

More than 1,000 people gathered after claims that the son of an owner of soy milk factory had made one or more Facebook posts insulting the late monarch.

Police and military officers, led by Muang district police chief Pol Col Kamon Osiri, told the mob they had interviewed the accused man and released him without charges.

Protesters raised doubt about police handling of the case, according to witnesses.

Phuket police chief Pol Maj Gen Thiraphon explained police had no power to detain the son, whose name was not revealed, because no wrongdoing had been seen by officers and the words posted online were not considered "direct defamation".

He said if officers gathered sufficient evidence, they would ask a court for an arrest warrant.

However, his clarification failed to satisfy the protesters and at 12.30am he asked them to open the way to traffic. Military police intervened to help to disperse the crowd.

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