[UPDATE] Man charged with lèse majesté for writing messages criticizing junta in mall restrooms

The military arrested and filed a lèse majesté charge against a 67-year-old man for writing messages in a shopping mall’s restrooms. The messages mainly criticized the junta and Article 112, or the lèse majesté law, and allegedly made reference to the King. He is likely to be tried in a military court 
The messages mainly criticized the junta leader Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha and the Democrat government which ruled the country from 2011 to 2013. They condemned the two governments for abusing Article 112.  
One of the messages reads: “The government of clowns that robbed the nation, led by f*** Prayuth. They have issued ridiculous policies of amateur comedians. Their main job is to use the monarchy (uncle [censored by Prachatai*]). Their main weapon is Article 112. I’m sick of seeing your face [Prayuth] every day. It tells me that you [Prayuth] are near the end because of the looming internal conflict.”
*The censored phrase, allegedly a reference to the King, merely describes a physical description of a person. 
At around 3 pm on Wednesday, security guards of the Seacon Square Shopping Mall in eastern Bangkok captured Opas C. after he allegedly wrote messages on the walls of three men’s restrooms in the mall and fined him 2,000 baht. Later in the evening the mall contacted the military to detain him. 
On Friday, the military brought him to the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) office and filed charges under Article 112 against him. 
At the press conference, Opas, sitting next to Lt Col Burin Thongprapai from the military’s Judge Advocate General’s Office, said he wrote the messages because Thai politics stressed him out and that he was frustrated with the coup and the junta. 
The reporters further asked what his view toward the monarchy was. He said he was merely curious why the monarchy enjoyed so much privilege. He told the media that he listened to pro-democracy community radio FM 88.5. 
However, Opas told Prachatai in a phone interview after the press briefing that the community radio station has actually been defunct for two years and that Burin instructed him to say that he was brainwashed by the radio station. 
He added that he wanted to merely criticize the junta. 
Lt Col Burin Thongpraphai, staff member of the Judge Advocate General’s Office, who brought the suspect to the CSD, told reporters that “the comments that the suspects made were clear. He can criticise the government, but not the monarchy. There will be many people like this if people consume news without filtering.” 
Lt Col Burin said Opas will be tried in military court.
Opas has been detained at the CSD.


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