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A 22-year-old man has been sentenced to prison over a short video clip on TikTok, joking with a stray cat. The message in the clip was allegedly intended to insult two kings. He was earlier given a suspended sentence.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported that on Tuesday (26 March) the Appeal Court in Kamphaeng Phet Province ruled to sentence Arm (full name withheld) to 3 years in prison after being indicted for royal defamation and violation of the Computer-Related Crime Act over a video clip on TikTok.

The complaint was filed by Buddha Buddhassa, a Kamphaeng Phet resident. He said he came across Arm’s 13 October 2021 clip joking with a stray cat and he felt that the words were intended to be sarcastic toward King Vajiralongkorn and King Bhumibol. Arm said he had never personally known the complainant.  He reported to Kamphaeng Phet Police Station in 2022 before he was indicted earlier last year.

Arm was initially sentenced to 3 years in prison but due to his guilty plea, this was reduced to 1 year and 6 months, suspended as he had never been imprisoned before. He was required to report to probation officers and perform 12 hours of community service. The prosecutor subsequently appealed against the sentence, citing that Arm’s action was deemed serious and he deserved a severe penalty. The court’s decision to reduce the length of the sentence was already lenient, so the prosecutor asked for the sentence not to be suspended.

The Appeal Court on Tuesday overturned the initial sentence and decided to sentence Arm to 3 years in prison without suspension, saying that this is to ensure that others will not imitate his action.

Arm was granted bail with 150,000 baht as security to appeal the sentence to the Supreme Court.

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