Trans woman gets 25 years for lese-majeste
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Trans woman gets 25 years for lese-majeste

Sentence halved from 50 years for 18 posts made on Twitter

A transgender woman has been sentenced to a total of 25 years in prison for royal defamation and related computer crimes, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).

The Southern Bangkok Criminal Court handed down the ruling on Thursday in the case against a 26-year-old defendant identified only as “Maggie”.

The convictions stemmed from 18 messages about the royal institution posted on Twitter between December 2022 and October 2023, the lawyers said.

Fourteen of the messages violated the lese-majeste law, Section 112 of the Criminal Code, as well as the Computer Crime Act. Four other messages violated only the Computer Crime Act.

The court sentenced the Yasothon native to three years for each of the first 14 counts, for a total of 42 years, and two years each for the other four convictions, bringing the total to 50 years. Because the defendant confessed, the sentence was reduced to 25 years, the lawyers said.

Maggie has been in custody at the Bangkok Remand Prison since her arrest by Special Branch police on Oct 20 last year. Her lawyers said her mobile phone was confiscated so she was unable to contact anyone, and she was initially questioned without a lawyer present.

When police showed her details of the charges against her, she said she signed a confession out of fear, her lawyers quoted her as saying.

Born into a farm family in Yasothon, Maggie attended school only to Mathayom 3 (Grade 9), and later moved to Bangkok where she worked in a restaurant. After losing her job during the pandemic, she found part-time work at a department store but struggled from month to month.

As someone affected by government policies, she told her lawyers, she started to become more interested in politics in 2018. In 2020, she started going to some of the pro-democracy rallies that were just starting to take place in opposition to the military-linked administration.

According to data from TLHR to Feb 29 this year, 1,951 people have been prosecuted for political participation and expression since the beginning of the Free Youth protests in July 2020. At least 268 are facing lese-majeste charges under Section 112, and 150 have been charged with sedition under Section 116.

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