Singer acquitted of royal defamation for protest song; activist sentenced to prison

Facing royal defamation charges for singing a modified version of the royal anthem at a protest in January 2021, Chaiamorn Ammy” Kaewwiboonpan, lead singer of The Bottom Blues pop band, was recently acquitted. However, another activist charged because of the protest, Promsorn, was sentenced to 2 years in prison without parole before being granted bail.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights and iLaw, on 28 December, the Thanyaburi Provincial Court in Pathum Thani Province delivered its verdict in the royal defamation cases against Chaiamorn Ammy” Kaewwiboonpan, lead singer of The Bottom Blues band, and political activist Promson Fah” Veerathamjaree.

Both were charged with royal defamation after protesting in front of the Thanyaburi Provincial Court in January 2021 to demand the release of student activist Sirichai Natueng, who was arrested on 13 January 2021 for spray-painting on portraits of royal family members.

The indictment stated that both sang modified versions of the royal anthem Sadudee Jom Racha.  

In addition to royal defamation, they were charged with violating the Communicable Disease Act, the Emergency Decree, and the Sound Amplifier Act.

The court dismissed the Communicable Disease Act charge as the two were not protest organisers. Promsorn pleaded guilty to charges related to royal defamation and using a sound amplifier without permission. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison for royal defamation and fined 200 baht for using a sound amplifier without permission. Due to his guilty plea, his sentence was reduced to 2 years in prison and a 100 baht fine.

Subsequently, Promsorn was granted provisional release without conditions after posting a  300,000 baht as security. 

The court dismissed the royal defamation charge against Chaiamorn, stating that there was no clear evidence to prove his intent to commit the offence. However, he was fined 200 baht for using a sound amplifier without permission.

Chaiamorn still faces another royal defamation charge for burning a portrait of the King in front of Klong Prem Center prison on 28 February 2021. Meanwhile, Promsorn has a total of 5 charges under a royal defamation law.

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