The Nonthaburi Juvenile and Family Court has found 19-year-old activist Thanakorn (last name withheld) guilty of royal defamation for giving a speech criticizing the monarchy during a protest on 10 September 2020.
Thanakorn was charged with royal defamation and sedition for a speech given during the 10 September 2020 protest at Nonthaburi Pier about King Vajiralongkorn’s alleged taxpayer-funded travels to Germany. Thanakorn also raised questions about why there is a need to use a different way of speaking with the royal family and asked whether the monarchy is still something the Thai people can believe in.
Thanakorn was initially charged with sedition along with activists Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong Jadnok, Shinawat Chankrajang, and Parit Chiwarak, who also participated in the protest, and later charged with royal defamation after the inquiry officer ruled that the speech insulted the King.
Thanakorn, who identifies as being part of the LGBTQ+ community, was 17 years old when they were charged, and so they were tried in a juvenile court. Last Thursday (22 December), Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that the Nonthaburi Juvenile and Family Court found them guilty of royal defamation and sentenced them to 3 years in prison. Since they were a minor when they were charged, the Court reduced their sentence to 1 year and 6 months, suspended for 2 years, during which time they will be on probation. The Court also dismissed the sedition charge due to lack of evidence.
This is the second time Thanakorn has been found guilty of royal defamation. They were previously convicted for a speech given at a protest on 6 December 2020, in which they said that Thailand is not a democracy but an absolute monarchy and spoke about the role of the monarchy in military coups. The Central Juvenile and Family Court sentenced Thanakorn to 2 years in prison but ruled to commute their prison sentence to a juvenile training centre and ordered Thanakorn to undergo training for a minimum of 1 year and 6 months or a maximum of 3 years, but not after they turn 24 years old.