Doctors find woman accused of lèse majesté insane

A 63-year-old woman, who was alleged to have committed lèse majesté during a protest in front the Constitution Court in July, has been diagnosed as mentally ill by psychiatrists.

On 16 Aug, Pol Lt Col Phiphob Sukkam, a Deputy Superintendent of Investigation at Thung Song Hong Police Station in Bangkok, said that the Galya Ratchanakharin Institute, where Thitinan Kaewjantranon had been held since her arrest, had already submitted its diagnosis of her mental health.

Thitinan was examined by a team of psychiatrists, psychologists and other specialists, led by a former Director-General and a Deputy Director-General of the Department of Mental Health under the Ministry of Public Health.

‘According to the diagnosis, Thitinan is mentally ill and is in need of at least a further two months’ medical treatment at the institute.  She is now incapable of giving any testimony and handling any legal action,’ the police officer said.

The case will be forwarded to Deputy Commander of Metropolitan Police Pol Maj Gen Parinya Chansuriya, the chief investigator in charge of the case, to consider what to do next, he said.

On the same day, Criminal Court Director-General Thawee Prachuablarb told reporters that in cases where the accused claimed during police investigation that they were mentally ill [in committing alleged crimes], police investigators were obliged to send them to be examined by psychiatrists. 

If the accused are found to be permanently mentally ill, having committed the alleged crimes without being able to control themselves, they will probably be acquitted.  But, if found to be temporarily mentally ill, they will probably be sentenced to punishment less severe than that prescribed in the law, he said, citing Section 65 of the Criminal Law:

Whenever any person commits an offence at the time of not being able to appreciate the nature, or illegality of his act or not being able to control himself on account of defective mind, mental disease or mental infirmity, such person shall not be punished for such offence.

But, if the offender is still partially able to appreciate the nature or illegality of his act, or is still partially able to control himself, such person shall be punished for such offence, but the Court may inflict less punishment to any extent than that provided by the law for such offence.

As Section 112 of the Criminal Code prescribes a penalty of lèse majesté of from 3 to 15 years’ imprisonment, those who are found to be ‘partially able’ to control themselves might, for example, be sentenced to one or two years’ imprisonment, he said. 

If investigators or the courts view that the accused are mentally ill and not capable of handling their legal cases, they are authorized by law to suspend any legal proceedings and send the accused to receive medical treatment at mental institutes or hospitals until they are considered able to account for themselves, he said.

Thitinan, a New Zealand resident, was accused of lèse majesté for her allegedly improper actions against a picture of HM the King in front of the Constitution Court on 13 July.

Having been held under medical care by the institute since her arrest, she has been officially forbidden go abroad by the police. 



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