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A 25-year-old man has been found guilty of royal defamation and given a suspended prison sentence over a Facebook comment made in July 2021.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said on Wednesday (25 October) that the Taling Chan Criminal Court has found Phatcharaphon (last name withheld), a 25-year-old construction foreman, guilty of royal defamation for a comment he made on a Facebook post of the government’s Public Relations Department (PRD) on 21 July 2021.

Phatcharaphon was sentenced to 3 years in prison. The Court reduced his sentence to 1 year and 6 months because he confessed and suspended his sentence for 3 years because it believes he deserve a chance to improve himself. He is required to report to a probation officer 8 times within the first 2 years and perform 48 hours of community service within the first year.

Phatcharaphon was arrested on 28 September 2021 after a complaint was filed against him by Kavin Chatawanich, a member of the ultra-royalist group Srisuriyothai and former MP candidate for the ultra-royalist Thai Pakdee Party, who accused Phatcharaphon of making an insulting comment about the government and the monarchy under the PRD’s post inviting people to send good wishes to the King. 11 police officers arrested him at home and confiscated his mobile phone after searching the house. He had never received a summons before his arrest.

Phatcharaphon said that his neighbours saw several men around his house ahead of his arrest, and that the men were asking the neighbours about him and the location of his house. While he was in police custody, officers continuously tried to convince him to confess, claiming that the court would only grant him bail if he confessed and that if he did not do so, he would be detained like other royal defamation defendants. Nevertheless, he denied all charges.

He was later granted bail on a 100,000-baht security and was required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet. He said that having to wear the bracelet caused a lot of anxiety in his daily life and at work, since he works on a construction site with a large number of workers. He also said that he felt unsafe.

Phatcharaphon was indicted on 20 December 2021. The public prosecutor said that his comment was rude and could make the public understand that the King is promiscuous and a bad person.

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