Watana not guilty in 1932 plaque case

Watana not guilty in 1932 plaque case

Court says online criticism was not computer crime

A journalist photographs a new plaque fitted into the road at the Royal Plaza on April 14, 2017. It replaced the Khana Ratsadon memorial plaque commemorating the 1932 Siamese Revolution. (Photo by Apichit Jinkul)
A journalist photographs a new plaque fitted into the road at the Royal Plaza on April 14, 2017. It replaced the Khana Ratsadon memorial plaque commemorating the 1932 Siamese Revolution. (Photo by Apichit Jinkul)

The Criminal Court has found Watana Muangsook, a prominent Pheu Thai Party figure, not guilty in a case related to remarks he made about the disappearance of the plaque marking the Siamese Revolution of 1932 from the Royal Plaza.

The court said on Friday that comments Mr Watana posted on his Facebook page were opinions that could not be deemed a computer crime. They posed no threat to security, the court added.

The court said his messages could be considered in the context of academic freedom and his criticism of authorities did not reflect ill intent.

Public prosecutors charged the outspoken politician with violating the Computer Crimes Act and Section 116 of the Criminal Code on instigating chaos, for comments he made on social media between April 17 and May 30 last year. 

His comments were made after the Khana Ratsadon memorial plaque commemorating the 1932 Siamese Revolution at the Royal Plaza was mysteriously removed. Despite inquiries made by Bangkok Metropolitan Authority officials, no trace of it has been found.

A new plaque with a new message not related to the revolution was installed at the same spot.

Mr Watana had pleaded not guilty.

The Computer Crimes Act has been applied very broadly by the current military government to target its critics, with the result that free speech has been limited.

It is also not uncommon for those charged with criminal defamation to also be charged with computer crime if their comments appeared online.


Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (12)

President Biden to attend Asean-US summit on Tuesday

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: US President Joe Biden will attend a meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) on Tuesday, the US embassy in Brunei told Reuters.

25 Oct 2021

UN: World greenhouse gas levels hit record last year

GENEVA: Greenhouse gas concentrations hit a record last year and the world is "way off track" on climate goals, the UN weather agency said on Monday, showing the scale of the task facing governments scrambling to avert dangerous levels of warming.

25 Oct 2021

Indonesia in talks to buy Merck's Covid-19 antiviral pill

JAKARTA: Indonesia is "finalising" a deal with Merck & Co to procure its experimental antiviral pills, named molnupiravir, to treat Covid-19 ailments, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Monday.

25 Oct 2021