The Criminal Court has found Patihan (family name suppressed) guilty of royal defamation over comments on a Facebook post by Somsak Jeamteerasakul regarding rumours about the health of King Rama X.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported that on 27 December 2021, Patihan was apprehended at his residence on an arrest warrant issued by the Criminal Court on 15 November 2021 and taken to the Technology Crime Suppression Division. It was claimed that Patihan had been previously summoned twice but failed to appear. However, he insisted that after checking the CCTV footage, no police officers had come to his house.
On 24 February 2022, a prosecution was initiated under the royal defamation law (Section 112) and the Computer-Related Crime Act, alleging that his comments insulted the king and showed malicious intent.
On 11 April 2023, at the first witness hearing, Patihan reversed his previous plea to guilty. The Court suspended the witness hearing and issued an order to investigate the circumstances of his case.
On 23 May 2023, Patihan, along with his mother, wife, and 1-year-old daughter, came to hear the verdict. He expressed concern about his daughter if he is imprisoned, as he is the only breadwinner.
The Court’s investigation found that Patihan came across a Facebook post by Somsak Jeamteerasakul whom he did not know and had never seen before. The post contained rumours about an illness of King Rama X which drew the attention of the public. After encountering the post multiple times on his news feed, Patihan decided to leave comments as others had done.
The Court ruled that Patihan was found guilty of royal defamation and a violation of the Computer-Related Crime Act. Since both laws were violated by the same offence, the sentence was based only on the law carrying heavier penalty, and was set at three years in prison. However, because Patihan had pleaded guilty, his sentence was halved to one year and six months.