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Student activist Sirapob Phumpheungphut has been found guilty of royal defamation and sentenced to prison over a speech given at a protest on 18 November 2020 about the monarchy’s role in Thai politics.

Sirapob Phumpheungphut (Photo from iLaw)

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said today (25 March) that the South Bangkok Criminal Court sentenced Sirapob to 3 years in prison, but later reduced his sentence to 2 years because he gave useful testimony. However, the Court found him not guilty of violating the Emergency Decree and the Public Assembly Act because he did not organize the protest.

The South Bangkok Criminal Court later decided to forward Sirapob’s bail request to the Appeal Court. He will be detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison until a ruling is made.

Sirapob was accused of royal defamation for a speech given at the 18 November 2020 protest, during which protesters marched from the Ratchaprasong Intersection to the police headquarters. The protest came after a crackdown on a protest in front of the parliament complex the day before.

During the protest, activists took turn giving speeches on a speaker truck. Sirapob spoke about the role of the monarchy in Thai politics and the transfer of some army units to be under the King’s direct command.  The Court ruled that his speech was “anti-monarchy” and that his criticism was not made in good faith because he defamed the King by saying that the King was above the Constitution and held centralized power.

Another activist, Chukiat Sangwong, was also charged along with Sirapob. However, he did not appear in court, so the Court struck his case from the case list.


The Appeal Court on 27 March denied bail for Sirapob on the grounds that the charges carry a high penalty and he is a flight risk.

TLHR noted, however, that Sirapob's bail request clearly stated that he is a student in a Master's degree programme and has never intended to run.

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