Piyabutr vows to fight lese majeste case
6-month probe finds single social post
Piyabutr Saengkanokkul on Monday denied having committed lese majeste as he answered a charge laid against him at Dusit police station where he was given 30 days to gather evidence to counter the allegation
The secretary-general of the Progressive Movement, accompanied by lawyer Atsadang Nutjaras, arrived at the station following historian Thepmontri Limpaphayom's complaint against him.
It was the first time the law professor has faced a charge of lese majeste despite his reputation for being an outspoken advocate of social and political reform.
Mr Atsadang said Mr Thepmontri had accused his client of the crime on multiple occasions following tweets and posts on social media made by Mr Piyabutr.
The police investigators spent nearly six months looking into Mr Thepmontri's complaint and found only one message to be potentially defamatory to the monarchy.
That message was tweeted by Mr Piyabutr on Oct 24 last year.
Mr Atsadang requested more time to prepare his client's defence against that post, with the police allowing Mr Piyabutr 30 days in which to gather evidence.
At no point during yesterday's meeting with the police was Mr Piyabutr detained since he voluntarily came forward to acknowledge the charge himself. Neither had a court order been issued for his arrest, Mr Atsadang said.
The Metropolitan Police Bureau did, however, stipulate that Mr Piyabutr report to Dusit police station every seven days for the duration of the 30-day period.
The lawyer said Mr Piyabutr agreed to the condition.
Meanwhile, Mr Piyabutr said the single message he is being prosecuted over did not amount to lese majeste.
He vowed to fight the case and said the legal action ran counter to his right to freedom of expression.
He added that whether supporting, opposing or having a neutral stance on calls for monarchy reform, everyone should be able to discuss the issue without risking their freedom.
Mr Piyabutr said he was merely offering an academic view but was met with a legal complaint when a public space to talk the issue over would be more appropriate.
The Thammasat University law professor added his academic views on the issue were made in good faith and for the benefit of both the monarchy and democracy.
He maintained no one should file a legal complaint against anyone else in order to gag or criticise them.