Second man faces charges over Rajabhakti and lese majeste

Second man faces charges over Rajabhakti and lese majeste

Tourists take photos with the Rajabhakti Park sign. (Photo by Chaiwat Sardyaem)
Tourists take photos with the Rajabhakti Park sign. (Photo by Chaiwat Sardyaem)

Security officers have arrested a second man accused of using Facebook to share an infographic detailing the alleged web of corruption in the Rajabhakti Park scandal.

Thanet Anantawong, a 25-year-old Thammasat University student, was arrested on Sunday and is being held for questioning at the temporary prison at the 11th Military Circle in Bangkok, a police source said. 

It was not known if Mr Thanet would be held for seven days before being taken to the Crime Suppression Division for further legal proceedings. 

A warrant for his arrest was approved by the military court on Saturday. He faces the same charges of lese majeste, inciting disorder and computer crimes as Thanakorn Siriphaibun, a 27-year-old Samut Prakan resident, who was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly posting the same diagram on the Facebook page of a red shirt group. He is being held at an undisclosed military camp.

The source said an investigation found Mr Thanet was among a group of student activists who attempted to visit Rajabhakti Park in Hua Hin on Monday, but were intercepted by military officers.  

It alleged the Thammasat student had taken part in the 2010 red shirt demonstrations and posted online messages deemed offensive to the monarchy.   

The chart at the centre of the case allegedly involves the royal institution indirectly because it includes references to Suriyan “Mor Yong” Sucharitpolwong — the well-known fortune teller charged with lese majeste who recently died in military custody.

The infographic also allegedly implicates Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his wife. Gen Prayut has denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Thanakorn has been detained under military custody for seven days under special powers invoked by Section 44 of the interim constitution. He will be taken to a military court on Monday to seek approval for the police to further detain him for a period of 12 days.

It was reported that lawyers of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship offered legal assistance to Mr Thanakorn but he did not express a wish to have a lawyer for the time being. He allegedly confessed to all charges brought against him and provided useful information that would lead to the issuing of arrest warrants for several more people involved with producing and disseminating the controversial chart.

Investigations show more than 20 people administered the Facebook page where the diagram was posted, while more than 100 people allegedly shared it. 

The group who police said shared the “same ideology” with the two arrested men had closed the Facebook page and opened a new one which they used to post false messages related to Rajabhakti Park and defamation against military officers. 

The army has warned internet users not to give a “like” or share the false information or messages deemed critical to the monarch released by the group as they will face legal action under relevant laws. 

Soldiers and police will hold a press conference at the Royal Thai Police on Monday to provide more details about the alleged anti-monarchy group.  

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