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Former pro-democracy activist and protest leader Shinawat Chankrajang has been sentenced to 3 years in prison on a royal defamation charge over a speech he gave at a protest in December 2020. He has been detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison as his family was immediately unable to post bail for him.

Shinawat Chankrajang (right)

Shinawat was charged with royal defamation and sedition for a speech given during a 2 December 2020 protest about monarchy reform. He said in his speech that people should be free to discuss the monarchy and added that the monarchy should be reformed first before a state welfare system can be implemented.

The protest took place after the Constitutional Court ruled that then-Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha could continue staying in army housing after retirement. 6 other activists were also charged for participating in the same protest: Anon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Panupong Jadnok, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Jiratita Thammarak, and Karit Arampiboonkit.

The 7 defendants were also charged with participating in an assembly of more than 10 people and causing a breach of peace, not disbanding when ordered to do so by an official, organising an unauthorised public assembly, blocking a public road, using a sound amplifier without permission, and violating disease prevention measures under the Emergency Decree and the Communicable Diseases Act.

Because Shinawat confessed, the public prosecutor decided to indict the other activists in a separate case. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said yesterday (13 December) that he was found guilty on all charges, sentenced to 6 years in prison, and fined 11,000 baht. His prison sentence was reduced to 3 years because he confessed.

Shinawat’s family filed for bail but were unable to bring a land title deed to court to use in place of a cash security before it closed for the day. He is now detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison, bringing the number of people detained pending trial or appeal on a royal defamation charge to 16.

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