29-year-old artist imprisoned for royal defamation over FB posts

A 29-year-old satirist has been sentenced to 2 years and 12 months in prison without parole for royal defamation over 2021 Facebook posts.

Atthasit (last name withheld) was found guilty on Wednesday under a royal defamation charge and the Computer-Related Crime Act for posting messages and drawings on the Facebook page “BackArt” in June and October 2021, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

The artist was initially sentenced to 6 years in prison. His sentence was later reduced to 3 years without parole

When Atthasit was arrested in November 2022 the police confiscated his laptop, mobile phone, and digital drawing pen. He was taken from his home in Nakhon Ratchasima Province to Bangkok to record the case. According to the police, the Facebook page disseminated messages and drawings that allegedly satirised and devalued the monarchy. The investigation showed that the artist was the owner of the Facebook page.

No lawyer was present during the arrest and investigation stage. Atthasit denied all allegations, asserting that he was not referring to the monarchy, but admitted that he was the one who made the drawings and owned the page.

The indictment stated that his posts targeted King Vajiralongkorn and the late King. The posts allegedly insulted and defamed both monarchs. The first contained the message, “Creating the world’s best hitman …even John Wick has to pay him respect.” The second was a drawing of a man eating a map of Thailand along with the captionA way out for Thailand?”

After Atthasit was indicted in January, he was not allowed bail during the trial. In the first witness examination stage, he recanted his initial testimony and pleaded guilty.

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