Thai magazine’s former editor gets 10 years for insulting king



Reuters

Published — Wednesday 23 January 2013

Last update 23 January 2013 7:08 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

BANGKOK: A former Thai magazine editor was jailed for 10 years on Wednesday for insulting the royal family under the country’s draconian lese-majeste law, a sentence that drew condemnation from international rights groups and the European Union.
Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was found guilty of publishing articles defaming King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 2010 when he was editor of a magazine devoted to self-exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The articles criticized the role of a fictional character meant to represent the king, public prosecutors said in a July 2011 report. Discussions about the role of the monarchy are forbidden.
“The accused is a journalist who had a duty to check the facts in these articles before publishing them. He knew the content defamed the monarchy but allowed their publication anyway,” a judge said in passing sentence.
The magazine, whose English title is Voice of Taksin, a play on words meaning “Voice of the Oppressed,” was shut down shortly before Somyot’s arrest, said Thida Thawornseth, a leader of the pro-Thaksin “red shirt” movement.
The European Union Delegation to Thailand said the verdict and sentence undermined the right to freedom of expression.
“At the same time, it affects Thailand’s image as a free and democratic society,” it said in a statement.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said the ruling was “more about Somyot’s strong support for amending the lese-majeste law than about any harm incurred by the monarchy.”
Rights groups say the lese-majeste law is used by Thailand’s powerful elite to silence political opponents, including supporters of pro-Thaksin groups.
“The lese-majeste law works against the long-term interests of the Thai monarchy,” said David Streckfuss, a Thailand-based independent scholar and lese-majeste expert. “To a society that is becoming ever more politically conscious, the holding and trying of defendants seems arbitrary, petty and a clear violation of human rights.”
Somyot, who was jailed for an additional year on an unrelated defamation conviction, was arrested on the lese-majeste charge while Oxford-educated, pro-establishment Abhisit Vejjajiva was prime minister.
Current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin’s sister, promised to amend the law during her 2011 election campaign but has rowed back on that since coming to office, causing divisions among her supporters.
Websites accused of defaming the royal family are frequently shut down.
“Thailand’s 2007 Computer Crimes Act effectively muzzles those who want to express an honest opinion and 75 percent of websites shut down since it came into force have been because of so-called anti-monarchy content,” said Sawatree Suksri, a criminal law lecturer at Thammasart University in Bangkok.
Convictions under the law carry a maximum jail term of 15 years.
The 85-year-old king, who has been in hospital since 2009, is seen by many in Thailand as a unifying, semi-divine father figure.
National unease over what follows his reign has contributed to tensions in the country since before Thaksin was toppled by the military in 2006, leaving the country divided broadly between royalists and nationalists on the one side and Thaksin’s mostly lower-class supporters on the other.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, on Thursday led the delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia taking part in the meeting of the international coalition countries to coun...
Munich: Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir led the Saudi delegation to the meetings of the International Syria Support Group meetings, taking place here.The meetings, which have begun, in Vienna, exert efforts to find a political so...
Brigadier General Ahmad Al-Assiri, the Military Advisor to the Minister of Defense, asserted the Kingdom is ready to send ground troops to fight Daesh, as soon as the international coalition gives the green light, and that this decision of Saudi Arab...
JAZAN: Seven lives were snuffed out and several others sustained injuries as a gunman went on a killing spree in Al-Dair governorate of Jazan on Thursday. Employees at an education department office came under a hail of bullets resulting in casualtie...
RIYADH: The ongoing Janadriyah national heritage and culture festival welcomed German government representatives as the guests of honor, marking a new era in Saudi-German ties.Detlef Daues, chief executive officer of a German business group, said: “I...
RIYADH: Highlighting the importance of caring, preservation and better maintenance of mosques located along highways in the Kingdom, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) and the Masajedna Foundation will honor excellence in...
ABHA: Women graduates in Asir say they are looking for private companies to hire them for online jobs which can be done at home.They asked businessmen to open new production lines for women in both factories and banks.The women said that this would c...
ABHA: Deviant groups have attempted to attract Saudi women to carry out terrorist operations by various means and in sinister ways.Many women have been found to have been recruited by terrorist groups inside and outside the Kingdom.Islamic scholar Mo...
RIYADH: Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal has written a patriotic poem to inspire Saudi troops at the southern borders.Titled, “I wish to be with you,” the poem infuses encouragement in the hearts and minds of troops guarding the borders in Najran,...
RIYADH: A delegation of senior officials from King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) visited the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) to discuss cooperation between the two institutions on sustainable energ...
RIYADH: The Office of the Education Department in eastern Taif has launched a program called “Fatin” which aims to protect students from intellectual threats around them.Fahhad Al-Zuibi, director at the Office for Education said, “The program aims to...
RIYADH: The Taif theater group won two awards when it participated recently in the ninth edition of a theatrical festival in Bahrain. The group, which represented the Kingdom in the theatrical festival, mounted a play production titled “Out of Contro...
RIYADH: Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar inaugurated the first festival for families with handicapped members at the King Fahd Cultural Center (KFCC) on Wednesday evening. The festival, which will last for three days, features a bazaar that displ...
RIYADH: A separate department to provide enhanced security to the Kingdom’s schools will be set up in all educational regions, Education Minister Ahmad Mohamed Al-Issa announced on Wednesday.Under the new directive, such departments will be establish...
RIYADH: Under a new ministerial ruling, payment of the minimum capital for industrial development is to be abolished.To support industrial development, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry issued a ministerial decree eliminating the requirement of t...

Stay Connected

Facebook