The military court sentenced a red-shirt businessman accused of posting content defaming the monarchy on Facebook to 50 years imprisonment, in a trial held in camera, but the jail term was halved because the suspect pleaded guilty.
The man, who wants to remain anonymous and whose given name begins with T and surname with S, was accused of using two Facebook accounts under the name “Yai Daengdueat”. The anti-establishment red shirt businessman was found guilty on five counts under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, known as the lèse majesté law, after posting five messages.
The court sentenced him to 10 years on each court.
The verdict was read in camera because the case is related to the revered Thai monarchy and might affect public morale, the court reasoned.
"The defendant insulted the beloved and revered Thai monarchy", said the judge. "The sentence handed down by the court is already light," the judge added.
The man has been detained at Bangkok Remand Prison for about three months.
The first alleged content, posted on 25 July 2014, mainly criticized the King’s sufficiency economy. It also compares the Bhutanese monarchy to Thailand’s.
The second alleged content posted on 21 August 2014 said one brand of soy milk is contaminated.
The third alleged content, posted on 13 September 2014, had an image of a human with one eye along with Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, and messages "Your f**** father." It also talked about a behind-the-scenes story of the coup d’état.
The fourth alleged content, posted on 27 September 2014, had an image of a poppy and allegation that an important wealthy family was involved in an illegal opium business. The message also cursed this family.
The fifth message, published in early November, talked about the fate of “Uncle Somchai”. The police said “Uncle Somchai is widely known among Internet users and red shirts to refer to His Majesty the King.” Defaming Uncle Somchai is therefore lèse majesté.
The military arrested the man, 58, and his wife on 18 December. The man was detained for interrogation at a military base in Bangkok for five days, while his wife was detained for one night. The military court issued an arrest warrant on the fifth day of military detention when he was transferred to the custody of the Crime Suppression Division.
During the military interrogation, the man confessed and was forced to provide passwords to email and social network accounts.
After 48 hours in police custody, the police submitted a custody petition to the military court on 25 December, when his wife submitted a 400,000 baht (12,270 USD) bail request and informed the military court that the suspect had never previously committed any crime and suffers from sinusitis, allergy, and gastritis. The military court, however, denied bail, citing the severity of the charges and flight risk.
The man graduated from a Faculty of Engineering with second class honours and lives in northern Bangkok.