Appraiser in hot water over 'offensive' online post

Appraiser in hot water over 'offensive' online post

A property appraiser is facing prosecution for allegedly violating the kingdom's lèse-majesté and computer laws, according to the senior government official who is taking legal action.

Seksakol Atthawong, assistant minister at the Prime Minister's Office, said he has filed a formal complaint with Nang Loeng police in Bangkok against Sophon Pornchokchai, president of a centre for research and appraisal of immovable assets.

Mr Seksakol, who was accompanied to the police station by lawyer Apiwat Khanthong, alleged that Mr Sophon violated the lèse-majesté law and uploaded false information into the computer system.

Mr Sophon posted a message on social media that offended the "institution", Mr Seksakol said, referring to the monarchy.

Although Mr Sophon has since removed the message, the offence was still committed, he added. Legal action was in order as the post attracted public attention, Mr Seksakol said.

People who read the message understood straight away what it meant, he said. A part of the message also defamed the government, Mr Seksakol said, adding that he and Mr Apiwat, as ordinary citizens, asked the police to press charges against Mr Sophon.

Mr Seksakol said violation of the lèse-majesté law is an offence that cannot be settled in or out of court. Anyone who comes across statements or messages that violate lèse-majesté can lodge a complaint with police, he said.

Once filed, the charge cannot be withdrawn, Mr Seksakol said.

Mr Sophon has denied the accusation, saying he and his family have always been loyal to the monarchy.

His message about a vaccine issue and the Chulabhorn Royal Academy should not be misinterpreted because he has never had bad thoughts about the monarchy, he told the Bangkok Post.

"There was no basis for me trying to offend the monarchy to begin with," Mr Sophon said.

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