‘Penguin’ faces 25th lese majeste charge
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‘Penguin’ faces 25th lese majeste charge

Latest case stems from comments made about court ruling on qualifications of former PM Prayut

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak talks to reporters on his arrival at the Samran Rat police station on Dec 16, 2020. (Photo supplied)
Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak talks to reporters on his arrival at the Samran Rat police station on Dec 16, 2020. (Photo supplied)

Political activist Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak reported to police this week to answer another lese-majeste case, bringing the total number he faces to a record-setting 25, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)

The complaint under Section 112 of the Criminal Code was lodged against him by former Palang Pracharath Party MP Pareena Kraikupt in connection with a social media post he made in December 2021, the lawyers’ group said.

In the post concerning a Constitutional Court ruling on the qualifications of former prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Mr Parit was accused of offending the monarch as well as violating the computer crime law.

Each conviction under the royal defamation law carries a jail term of between 3 and 15 years. Most people charged with lese-majeste also find themselves charged with computer crime.

Mr Parit met with investigators at the Thong Lor police station on Thursday and denied both charges against him. He also refused to have his fingerprints taken and told investigators he would submit a statement of defence within 30 days. He was released after acknowledging the charges.

According to TLHR, it was the 25th lese-majeste case filed against Mr Parit in connection with his political activities during 2020 and 2021.

The group’s records to Feb 29 this year show that 1,951 people have been prosecuted for political participation and expression since the beginning of the Free Youth protests in July 2020. At least 269 are facing charges under Section 112 and 150 have been charged with sedition under Section 116.

In a related development, the Criminal Court on Friday rejected another bail application for hunger-striking activists Tantawan Tuatulanon and Natthanon Chaimahabut, saying there was no reason to reconsider the matter.

Lawyers representing the pair had asked the court to appoint Sommai Tuatulanon, Ms Tantawan’s father, as the supervisor of their release.

Both face charges of sedition arising from an incident on Feb 4 during a motorcade carrying Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Mr Natthanon, 23, honked his horn repeatedly and tried to pass a police car and Ms Tantawan argued with an officer when they were stopped.

They have been in custody since Feb 14, when they began their hunger strike to protest against the refusal of bail to people accused of political offences.

Ms Tantawan is at Thammasat University Hospital while Mr Natthanon is at the Medical Correctional Hospital.

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