57-year-old jailed for royal defamation over FB share

A 57-year-old woman from Phetchabun Province has been sentenced to one year and six months in prison after allegedly sharing a Facebook post calling for the monarchy to be under the constitution.

The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that Homdaeng (pseudonym), a 57-year-old woman from Phetchabun Province, was indicted under the royal defamation law and the Computer-Related Crime Act for sharing a FB post calling for the monarchy to be under the constitution.

The complaint was filed by Sajja Chokeboonsongsawad, Director of the IT Crime Prevention and Suppression Division, Office of the Permanent Secretary, on behalf of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society. Homdaeng was accused of sharing a post on 17 October 2020. Some of the original message contained harsh words, but she did not add any text; her only action was sharing. Homdaeng acknowledged the charges on 22 January 2021.

She was indicted on 27 July 2022 and was granted bail with 90,000 baht as security. On 5 October 2023, before the witness examination stage, Homdaeng decided to plead guilty.

On 20 November, the court ruled that Homdaeng was guilty under the royal defamation law and the Computer-Related Crime Act. In accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure, the sentence was based on the law with a heavier penalty, resulting in three years in prison. Due to her guilty plea, the penalty was reduced to one year and six months, without parole.

The court stated that the message contained false and offensive information about the king. The defendant should have carefully considered whether it was true or not, but she still spread the information, which showed that she did not respect the monarchy.

The action could lead to dissatisfaction among the Thai people and disharmony in society, and have an impact on national security. Therefore, the court had no reason to suspend the sentence.

Pending an appeal, her lawyer filed a bail application with 100,000 baht as security. The court subsequently granted bail without any conditions.

The TLHR observed that in their royal defamation cases, Warunee and Wat also pleaded guilty and were sentenced to one year and six months in prison. However, the Appeal Court repeatedly denied bail, stating that the charges carried a high penalty and the defendants were likely to flee. As a result, both have been detained in prison pending appeal.

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