French ambassador dodges lese majeste request

French ambassador dodges lese majeste request

Bangkok Post file photo
Bangkok Post file photo

The French ambassador has told the justice minister that "France doesn't have a lese majeste law" after being asked this week about whether France would extradite three Thais wanted here for insulting the monarchy.

Ambassador Thierry Viteau told the Bangkok Post that Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya made the request during a meeting on Monday.

He said he told the minister that he would convey the message to Paris but added that the lese majeste law did not exist in France.

The French ambassador, who is due to end his term in this country in the next few months, said Gen Paiboon did not pressure him about extraditing the three Thais but told him the seriousness with which Bangkok views the charges it regards as "affecting political security and the Thai monarchy".

The three Thais, who are seeking political asylum in France, are Thammasat University's (TU) liberal arts student Saran "Aum Niko" Chuichai, TU history lecturer Somsak Jeamthirasakul and red-shirt protest co-leader Jaran Ditapichai.

Mr Viteau said he and Gen Paiboon did not discuss the subject for long and spent much of their meeting talking about other issues including France's concern over Thailand's continued use of the death penalty. 

Diplomatic sources also pointed out that France and Thailand do not have an extradition treaty and the three are unlikely to be sent back.

"Even if there is a proper extradition request, they haven't committed a crime in their eyes, so how can France process it?" a source said.

The Prayut Chan-o-cha government says 31 people charged with lese majeste are living in exile, with more than half residing in neighbouring countries. There are about 50 people in Thai prisons on lese majeste charges at present.

Mr Viteau spoke to the Bangkok Post on Monday night during a Bastille Day reception, marking France's national day.


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