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A man who was arrested in October 2022 for refusing to sit down and shouting at King Vajiralongkorn's royal motorcade has been indicted for royal defamation and resisting arrest.

Atirut while he was detained at Lumpini Police Station (Photo from TLHR)

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported yesterday (10 January) that the public prosecutor had decided to indict Atirut (last name withheld), a 25-year-old programmer, on charges of royal defamation and resisting arrest. Atirut was charged for refusing to sit down and shouting “Going anywhere is a burden” as King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida’s royal motorcade passed a crowd gathered at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre (QSNCC) on 15 October 2022.

Eyewitness said that Atirut was immediately detained after the incident by a group of around 10 officers, who put him in a chokehold and carried him away, later putting him in handcuffs. An officer also put a hand over his mouth. He was then detained at Lumpini Police Station for two nights before being released on bail, and sustained minor injuries from the arrest, including scratches on his left ankle and both elbows and a torn nail on his right hand.

TLHR said that, while he was detained at the police station, Atirut had to undergo a urine test. Officers also searched his house in Pathum Thani Province, but did not find anything illegal.

Atirut told TLHR that he was not aware who his arresting officers were, because they were not wearing uniforms and did not identify themselves. He also said that before he was allowed to see a lawyer, he was taken to a psychiatric hospital for a mental health examination. At the hospital, his hands and feet were tied to a chair while a nurse went through a mental illness screening questionnaire, even though he told the nurse he is not mentally ill and would not harm anyone, after which the nurse tightened the restraints. A blood sample was also taken without his consent.

Atirut noted that some of the questions the nurse asked were not related to mental health and seemed to be more about his alleged offense, as he was also asked how he felt about the monarchy and whether he had previously gone to a protest.

On Monday (9 January), the public prosecutor decided to indict him, claiming that what he shouted at the royal motorcade was inappropriate and insulting. They also accused him of trying to make people think that the King and Queen’s visit caused problems and was a burden on the public, which can lead to hatred against the King and Queen as well as damaging their reputation.

The public prosecutor also accused Atirut of resisting arrest by kicking the arresting officers, causing two of them to sustain minor injuries to their arm and back.

He was later released on bail without requiring additional security. 

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