Thailand courts hand jail terms to MP and musician for royal insults

Thailand courts hand jail terms to MP and musician for royal insults

Chonthicha “Lookkate” Jangrew, an activist-turned-election candidate for the Move Forward Party, attends the general election campaign, in Pathum Thani, Thailand, April 11, 2023.

BANGKOK--Courts in Thailand handed jail terms on Monday to an activist musician who set fire to a portrait of the king and to an opposition lawmaker for insulting the monarchy, their lawyers said.

Another monarchy-reform activist - who had gone on a partial hunger strike after being accused of harassing a royal motorcade and charged with sedition - was granted bail from pre-trial detention at a separate hearing, a legal aid group said.
The musician and the lawmaker had fallen foul of Thailand’s lese-majeste law - one of the toughest of its kind in the world - which shields the powerful monarchy from criticism and carries a penalty of up to 15 years in jail for each offence.
Chonthicha Jangrew, 31, a parliamentarian with the Move Forward Party, received a two-year term for a speech made in 2021 at an anti-government protest. She had denied the charge and was given bail pending an appeal, her lawyer Marisa Pidsaya told Reuters.
Another court sentenced musician Chaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan, 35, to four years in prison for burning a portrait of King Maha Vajiralongkorn. Chaiamorn, who was found guilty of arson, lese-majeste and computer crimes, had also denied the charge and said he set the portrait alight to vent frustration over the detention of fellow activists on royal insult charges.
The legal aid group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said Chaiamorn was also granted bail and intended to appeal. The courts have yet to issue statements on the sentences. The palace typically does not comment on the law.
More than 272 people have been charged under the lese-majeste law since 2020, and 17 are bring held in pre-trial detention, according to legal aid group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, which compiles data and has defended many of those prosecuted.
In the third ruling on Monday, a court granted 22-year-old Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon bail from pre-trail detention, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said. She was arrested in February and charged with sedition and other violations after doing a live broadcast on her Facebook account showing her arguing with police who were blocking cars to clear the way for a motorcade carrying Princess Sirindhorn, the sister of King Maha Vajiralongkorn. She has denied the charges.
She was sent to a hospital outside prison earlier this month due to her weak physical condition, the legal aid group said.
A youth-led political movement that emerged in 2020 broke traditional taboos by calling for the reform of the monarchy and has previously criticised the blocking of traffic for royal motorcades.
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