Italians charged with desecrating Thai flag

Italians charged with desecrating Thai flag

The footage from a closed-circuit camera shows one of the tourists pulled down a Thai national flag in front of a shophouse on Soi Maharaj 4, Muang Krubi district, on Saturday.
The footage from a closed-circuit camera shows one of the tourists pulled down a Thai national flag in front of a shophouse on Soi Maharaj 4, Muang Krubi district, on Saturday.

KRABI - Two young Italian men have been arrested and charged with desecrating Thailand's national flag after they were caught on video pulling down flags hung from awnings in central Krabi while being drunk.

Officers from Muang Krabi police station, accompanied by immigration and tourist police, arrested on Monday morning the men identified only as Tobias 20, and Ian, 18, according to Thai media.

They were apprehended at a guesthouse on Soi Maharaj 2 in Pak Nam subdistrict, just two sois from where the incident took place. 

During the interrogation, the two tourists allegedly admitted to being the men on the videos, saying the incident happened after they left a pub. They were very drunk and could not remember what they had done.

The Italian tourists performed a wai and apologised Krabi residents and the Thai public for what happened. 

“We were really very drunk, we like the Thai people and we like the Thai culture,” Tobias told local media.  

“We didn’t know about the [flag protection] law. And we just want to say we're really very sorry.”

Pol Lt Khunsawai Khunno, deputy investigation chief at Muang Krabi police station, said the men were initially charged with colluding to damage other people’s property and desecrating the national flag.   

The incident occurred in front of shophouses decorated with national flags on Soi Maharaj 4 at 3.30am on Saturday. Ian was filmed pulling on a hanging flag and Tobias ripped down four more flags including the one grabbed by his friend who looked on, laughing. Tobias later pushed two flower pots while walking away. 

Under the Thai criminal law, anyone found guilty of desecrating flags or state symbols is subject to a jail term not exceeding two years and a fine up to 4,000 baht or both.

The Thai Flag Act also stipulates penalties -- a six-month prison term and a 1,000-baht fine -- for such actions.

In Italy, desecration of any Italian or foreign nation's national flag is also prohibited by law and punished with fines between €1,000 and €10,000 for verbal desecration and with reclusion up to two years for physical damage or destruction. 

Source: Thairath TV

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