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A progressive Move Forward Party MP, Chonthicha Jangrew, has been sentenced to three years in prison for royal defamation over a protest speech in 2021. The sentence was later reduced to two years in prison without parole.

The court ruled that Chonthicha Jangrew, also known as “Lookkate”, was guilty under the royal defamation law for her speech during a 2021 protest in front of the Thanyaburi Provincial Court. The protest was staged to demand the release of political detainees. The MP revealed that another nine defendants in this case were charged under the Emergency Decree and the Sound Amplifier Act for using a loudhailer without permission. These nine defendants were later acquitted.

Chonthicha was the only one who was charged under the royal defamation law over her speech about the laws concerning crown property management and royal service administration that were amended during the tenure of former PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha. She asserted that the speech was delivered with good intentions.

In her speech, she criticized the then-Prime Minister’s amendments to the laws, which gave King Vajiralongkorn more power to monopolise royal assets. The judges stated that her speech could lead to misunderstanding by suggesting that the King intentionally spent taxpayers’ money for his personal use and exercised his power to interfere with the state administration.

Initially sentenced to three years in prison, her sentence was reduced to two years in prison without parole due to her useful testimony. The court allowed provisional bail, and the MP will appeal the verdict.

This is Chonthicha’s second case as she also faces another royal defamation charge for posting a message to King Vajiralongkorn during a November 2020 protest. That case is currently at the stage of witness examination.

Before entering politics, Chonthicha was a prominent pro-democracy activist after the 2014 coup, when she was a university student. She was among those who were arrested and detained for 12 days in 2015 for sedition and illegal assembly for staging a protest to mark the first anniversary of the 2014 coup.

The court’s verdict came a few days after Chonthicha was named among Time’s Next Generation Leaders 2024.

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