Amrufm (CC BY 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons
iLaw, a group that tracks royal defamation cases stated, “The court punished him with seven years per count. Altogether he was given 70 years, but it was reduced in half because he confessed.” According to iLaw, Wichai initially denied the charges against him, but he eventually confessed after waiting more than a year in jail for the legal proceedings to begin. The lèse-majesté cases are usually shrouded in secrecy, as the media is forced to avoid many of the details to avoid violating the law themselves. Reporters were not allowed to enter the military court where today’s verdict was read. News agency The Khaosod reported that Pavinee Khoomlao of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said that Wichai hopes to have his sentence reduced by royal amnesty on the occasion of the King’s birthday on 28 July. The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights are currently assisting in 10 cases of lèse-majesté.
Later that same day, another man was sentenced to two and half years by a criminal court for uploading an audio clip from an underground political radio show that was also deemed insulting to the monarchy. The use of the lèse-majesté laws has gone up since the royalist junta took power in 2014, and more than 100 people have been charged under the law since the coup.
The cases are being watched closely, and the United Nations’ rights body has already warned that Thailand’s widespread use of the law “may constitute crimes against humanity.”