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A former pro-democracy activist and protest leader has been initially sentenced to 6 years in prison for an array of charges, including royal defamation, over a speech he gave during a protest in November 2020. The sentence was reduced to 3 years without parole. He has previously been convicted on 2 other royal defamation charges.

Shinawat Chankrajang was previously charged with royal defamation, assembly of more than 10 people, not dispersing when ordered to do so by an official, violating the Emergency Decree, blocking a public road, and unauthorized use of a sound amplifier. The charges stemmed from his speech during a protest at the Siam Commercial Bank’s head office on 25 November 2020, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).

The court ruled that Shinawat was guilty as charged. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison for violating the royal defamation law and 2 years for assembly of more than 10 people and not dispersing when ordered by an official. In addition, he was fined 10,000 baht for violating the Emergency Decree, 2,000 baht for blocking a public road and 200 baht for unauthorized use of a sound amplifier. However, due to his guilty plea, the activist was handed a reduced sentence of 3 years in prison without parole and fined 6,100 baht. His lawyer filed a bail request of 150,000 baht as security. It takes a few days for the court to decide. During this time, he is detained in the Bangkok Remand Prison.

This charge is one of 3 royal defamation charges he has faced, which have reached the final verdicts. He pleaded guilty in all 3 cases. Shinawat was given a 1 year and 6 months suspended sentence for his protest speech on 28 July 2022 and was sentenced to 3 years in prison and fined 11,100 baht for a speech during a protest on 2 December 2020.

The TLHR reported that 7 other activists faced the same charges over the same event. During the trial in January, Shinawat reversed his plea to guilty. His case was then separated from the others. The court decided to indict them earlier this month.

According to the indictment, the purposes of the protest in question were to demand the revocation of the King’s ownership of property, which should belong to the nation, and to call for the resignation of the former PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha. The protesters were reported to accuse the monarchy of interfering in the government and using taxpayers’ money to carry out personal ceremonies and business activities.

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