A 28-year-old man was sentenced to six years in prison for shares and posts on Facebook (FB) criticizing the monarchy. The sentence was halved to three years due to his guilty plea, and he was later granted bail to allow an appeal.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported that on 12 June 2023, the Taling Chan Criminal Court delivered a verdict in the case of Prasong “Dong” Khotsongkhram who was charged under the royal defamation law and Computer-related Crime Act for his shares and posts on FB between May and June 2021.
Prasong was apprehended on 8 July 2021 from his home in Lopburi Province and was taken to Bangplat Police Station. He was later taken to court for a temporary detention order and was not granted bail. He was denied bail for a second time on 11 July 2021, and for a third time on 12 July 2021, even after his lawyer filed a bail request with 250,000 baht as security.
The complainant, pro-monarchy activist Thitiwat Tanagaroon, who was praised by King Rama X for raising a portrait of King Rama IX amidst a 2020 pro-democracy protest, claimed that he monitored the FB posts of those who frequently criticized the monarchy and came across Prasong’s FB posts.
Prasong was granted bail for 100,000 baht on 4 August 2021 after spending 27 days in prison. The prosecution indicted him on 28 September 2021.
The complaint included three texts, two of which were posted and shared on 7 June 2021. One of the messages was accompanied by shared FB posts from three pages that were alleged to insult King Rama X.
Another message was posted and shared on 21 May 2021, and contained a photo of King Rama X.
The Court ordered an investigation into Prasong’s behaviour which revealed that Prasong is a well-behaved person with no involvement in drug use and no criminal record. Probation officers agreed to suspend punishment.
On 12 June 2023, based on the indictment and Prasong’s guilty plea, the court found that Prasong violated the royal defamation law and Computer-related Crime Act. Prasong’s actions constituted a number of offences and the sentence was based on the law with the heavier penalty, resulting in six years in prison. Due to his guilty plea, the penalty was reduced to three years.
The court later granted bail to allow an appeal, on the condition that Prasong is not allowed to leave the country, and an additional 50,000 baht was requested as security.
After being granted bail in 2021, the court required Prasong to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet. It was not until February 2023 that he was allowed to take it off.