Thai woman sentenced to 43 years in jail for insulting monarchy

Clay Curtis
January 22, 2021

Lese majeste in Thailand punishes defaming or insulting the king by up to 15 years in prison.

Anshan Priilert, 65, pleaded guilty to sharing audio clips on YouTube and Facebook between 2014 and 2015 that were deemed critical of the kingdom's royal family, according to Thai Human Rights Lawyers.

A woman in Thailand was sentenced on Tuesday to 43 years and six months in prison for criticising the country's monarchy.

Charles Santiago, a Malaysian lawmaker who chairs the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), called the move "yet another illustration of the cynical weaponisation of the lese majeste law to stifle any form of criticism".

"I thought it was nothing".

"It's obvious that 112 is being used again as a political tool", Pannika Wanich, Mr Thanathorn's colleague and one of the group's leaders, told Reuters.

"At the moment's court docket verdict is stunning and sends a spine-chilling sign that not exclusively criticisms of the monarchy received't be tolerated, however they will even be severely punished", stated Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher for the group Human Rights Watch. Up until then, there had been a two-year suspension of the use of the law, with prosecutors instead pursuing protesters and dissidents under other laws, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

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Anshan's case was initially brought before a military court, and she has been held for almost four years pending trial, her lawyer said. For more than five months, protesters held regular demonstrations demanding the resignation of Prayut - who seized power in a military coup in 2014 - as well as the dissolution of Parliament and changes to the constitution that they say entrenches the military's power. She was held in jail from January 2015 to November 2018. Today, royal defamation charges were also reportedly levied against the opposition politician Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, whose popular Future Forward party was disbanded on a flimsy pretext in February 2020.

Throughout Thailand's final 15 years of political unrest, the legislation has incessantly been used as a political weapon in addition to in private vendettas.

The protest motion has misplaced steam because the arrests and since new restrictions on public gatherings had been applied following a surge in coronavirus instances. "So I didn't really think this through and was too confident and not being careful enough to realize at the time that it wasn't appropriate".

The defendant, a former Revenue Department official identified by media reports as 63-year-old Anchan Preelert, was initially sentenced to 87 years after her plea to 29 counts of Lese-Majeste.

On Monday, another man arrested in 2014 was sentenced to more than four years in jail after publishing articles and poems online that the court said contained falsehoods about the monarchy. The person, a salesman, had initially been sentenced to 70 years, however had his sentence halved after pleading responsible.

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