Protester gets 2-year royal insult sentence
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Protester gets 2-year royal insult sentence

Conviction is first in connection with dozens of lese majeste cases related to pro-democracy rallies in 2020-21

A man was sentenced to two years in jail on Friday under the royal defamation law for putting a sticker on a portrait of His Majesty the King during a pro-democracy rally in 2020.

It was the first sentencing in connection with the dozens of lese majeste charges related to the protests that began in mid-2020, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).

Thousands of people marched to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and some made unprecedented calls for reform of the monarchy in the early days of the youth-led movement.

But the protests lost momentum as Covid-19 case numbers surged and as authorities detained most of the leaders.

The man sentenced yesterday, identified only as Narin, is among some 160 activists that TLHR says are facing charges under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, which carry a prison sentence of up to 15 years per charge. Some people face multiple charges.

The criminal court jailed him for two years for violating Section 112 after he posted a sticker bearing the name of a satirical Facebook page on a portrait of the King outside the Supreme Court during a rally in September 2020.

“This could be an example of prosecuting the other 112 cases going forward,” said Kittisak Kongthong, the TLHR attorney who defended the 31-year-old.

He noted that the case had been “accelerated”, with the court ordering “no testimonies of academics and the plaintiff.”

Narin’s sentence was reduced from three years to two, and he can appeal within 30 days. He was released on a 100,000-baht bail.

He is still facing at least two further lese majeste charges, according to his lawyer.

The sentencing comes after a number of prominent pro-democracy protest leaders were released on bail last month.

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak is facing 23 lese majeste charges but was allowed to go free on Feb 24 after 200 days in pre-trial detention.

Days later, 37-year-old Arnon Nampa, a prominent human rights lawyer, was also released on bail.

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