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Thai court sentences former editor to 10 years for lese majeste

Publication Date : 23-01-2013

 

A Thai court today sentenced a political activist and former editor of a partisan publication to 10 years in jail for lese mejeste.

Bangkok Criminal Court found Somyot Prueksakasemsuk guilty for allowing two articles critical of the monarchy to be published in the Voice of Thaksin magazine, a now-defunct publication supportive of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Somyot had argued that under the Print Act 2007 it was writers and not editors who should be held as the prime offenders in lese majeste cases.

Both of the offending articles were written under a pseudonym.

"Somyot as the editor, and as a former political activist, has to take more responsibility for what was published than others," the court ruled, sentencing him to five years in jail for each article.

New York-based Human Rights Watch criticised the ruling as a blow to press freedom in Thailand.

"This will further the culture of self-censorship that has been prevalent since the 2006 coup," Human Rights Watch Thailand representative Sunai Phasuk said.

Thaksin, a former billionaire telecommunications tycoon turned populist politician, was toppled by a military coup in 2006.

The lese majeste law makes it a criminal offence to defame or threaten the king, queen, heir apparent or regent, with a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Somyot was arrested on April 30, 2011, five days after launching a petition to amend the lese majeste law.

 

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