Activist sentenced to prison for royal defamation over Facebook posts

Activist Mongkhon Thirakot has been found guilty of royal defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act and sentenced to 4 years and 6 months in prison for two Facebook posts made in July 2022.

Mongkhon Thirakot (Photo by Ginger Cat)

Mongkhon, 30, is a Chiang Rai-based activist and online clothes vendor. He was charged with royal defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act for two Facebook posts made on 28 and 30 July 2022. One post contains a picture of King Vajiralongkorn and a message about wearing black in mourning, while another contains an edited picture of Mongkhon holding a picture frame.

Mongkhon was arrested at his family home in Chiang Rai on 11 August 2022 by a unit of 21 police officers.  He was later released on bail. The public prosecutor indicted him on the grounds that the posts insulted the King and damaged his reputation.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said that, during witness examination, Mongkhon’s friend came to observe the hearing, but was ordered to leave the court room by an official and a court marshal, who said that the court ordered that Mongkhon to be tried in secret. However, TLHR said that no such order was made for the trial but noted that court marshals and security guards were always present at every hearing.

Mongkhon argued that, although he made the two posts, the content was satirical and not an offence under the royal defamation law. He also stated his belief that using the royal defamation law damaged the monarchy, adding that as all are born equal all can be equally criticised.

On Monday (30 October), the Chiang Rai Provincial Court found Mongkhon guilty of royal defamation and sentenced him to a total of 6 years in prison, reduced to 4 because he gave useful testimony. The court also sentenced him to 6 months in prison on a trespassing charge, which was previously suspended. This brings his total sentence to 4 years and 6 months.

Mongkhon was detained overnight as the Chiang Rai Provincial Court forwarded his bail request to the Appeal Court. He was granted bail the next morning on a security of 300,000 baht and on the condition that he does not do anything that damages the monarchy and must not leave the country.

Mongkhon was previously charged with royal defamation for 27 Facebook posts. He was found guilty on 14 counts and sentenced to 28 years in prison by the Chiang Rai Provincial Court. The court ordered the sentences for both cases to be served consecutively. He is now in the process of filing for appeal.


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