Ac­tivist jailed for in­sult­ing Thai roy­als

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

BANGKOK: A Thai court sen­tenced an out­spo­ken anti-coup ac­tivist to 18 years in prison yes­ter­day on charges of in­sult­ing the monar­chy in speeches dur­ing po­lit­i­cal ral­lies.

Dara­nee Charn­cho­engsil­pakul, 46, was charged with vi­o­lat­ing Thai­land’s lese ma­jeste law, which man­dates a jail term of three to 15 years for any­one who “de­fames, in­sults, or threat­ens the king, the queen, the heir-ap­par­ent or the re­gent”.

Charn­cho­engsil­pakul, nick­named “Da Tor­pedo” for her ag­gres­sive speak­ing style, has been de­tained without bail since July last year for mak­ing speeches deemed in­sult­ing to the monar­chy at po­lit­i­cal gath­er­ings.

Charn­cho­engsil­pakul, a jounal­ist-turned-ac­tivist, was sen­tenced to six years in prison for three dif­fer­ent re­marks, said Judge Phrom­maj Poosae.

“Al­though the de­fen­dant’s speeches did not have the in­tended ef­fect be­cause no one be­lieved her, the de­fen­dant can­not es­cape her wrong­do­ing,” the judge said.

Dressed in an or­ange prison uni­for m, she smiled and flashed a victory sign to cam­eras as she was es­corted from the court­room by guards. She will ap­peal the ver­dict.

The court closed the hear­ings to the pub­lic, cit­ing na­tional se­cu­rity and the sen­si­tiv­ity of the is­sue. Amnesty In­ter­na­tional and other hu­man rights groups raised con­cerns that the trial would not be fair.

The case is tied closely to bit­ter divi­sion be­tween sup­port­ers of the 2006 coup against for mer prime min­is­ter Thaksin Shi­nawa­tra, and Thaksin loy­al­ists and anti-coup ac­tivists. – Sapa-AP

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