Graffiti painter sentenced to 3 years for royal defamation

Cover photo: Thai Lawyers for Human Rights

A 20-year-old man has been sentenced to three years in prison on a royal defamation charge after allegedly painting graffiti about monarchy reform during a protest at Din Daeng on 13 September 2021.

On 28 September 2023, the criminal court sentenced Weeraphap “Rif” Wongsaman to 3 years in prison without suspension, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

The graffiti read ‘The monarchy should be reformed to be under the constitution’. The court stated that the painted message included offensive words and showed the intention to insult the King, causing damage to the King.

On the same day, the criminal court issued an order to submit Weeraphap’s bail request to the appeal court for consideration. The process takes 2-3 days, during which time Weeraphap is to be detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison.

Weeraphap participated in the protest at the Din Daeng intersection on 13 September 2021. He was arrested on 15 September 2021 while eating noodles and was taken to Chaiyapruek Police Station in Nonthaburi Province to file the report. He was then detained at Paholyothin Police Station in Bangkok. Weeraphap denied the allegation.

In addition to the royal defamation charge, he faced other four charges: violating the Emergency Decree, participating in a gathering of more than 10 people, refusing to disperse after an official order, and obstructing police operations. All four charges were dismissed.

A witness said based on appearance and clothing in a video clip from that day compared to pictures on Weeraphap’s social media, Weeraphap was identified as the perpetrator.

Another witness, who is an inquiry officer in this case, stated that he solely knew Wiraphap as the perpetrator from the report. When asked to examine the picture in the report, he could not confirm whether it was actually Weeraphap or not.

Weeraphap insisted that on the day of the incident, he did not participate in the protest and claimed that the person in the report was not him.

Advertisements

Since 2007, Prachatai English has been covering underreported issues in Thailand, especially about democratization and human rights, despite the risk and pressure from the law and the authorities. However, with only 2 full-time reporters and increasing annual operating costs, keeping our work going is a challenge. Your support will ensure we stay a professional media source and be able to expand our team to meet the challenges and deliver timely and in-depth reporting.

• Simple steps to support Prachatai English

1. Bank transfer to account “โครงการหนังสือพิมพ์อินเทอร์เน็ต ประชาไท” or “Prachatai Online Newspaper” 091-0-21689-4, Krungthai Bank

2. Or, Transfer money via Paypal, to e-mail address: [email protected], please leave a comment on the transaction as “For Prachatai English”