A Thai court sentences an opposition lawmaker to 2 years in prison

US Court Alerts

A Thai court on Monday sentenced a lawmaker from a progressive opposition party to two years in prison after finding her guilty of defaming the monarchy in a speech she made during a protest rally three years ago.

Chonthicha Jangrew of the Move Forward Party was greeted by several supporters when she arrived at the Thanyaburi Provincial Court in Pathum Thani province, north of Bangkok, with some party colleagues. Chonthicha, popularly known by her nickname “Lookkate,” represents a constituency in Pathum Thani.

Her charges stemmed from her speech in 2021 that demanded the release of all political prisoners during a rally in front of the same court that delivered Monday’s sentence.

She was found guilty for parts of the speech concerning how the government then led by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha had amended laws to give King Vajiralongkorn more power to control the palace wealth, which is managed by the Crown Property Bureau.

The judge said her speech could misinform the public by suggesting that King Vajiralongkorn can spend taxpayers’ money for his personal use and use his influence to interfere with politics, which could tarnish his reputation.

The judge originally sentenced her to three years in prison, but reduced it to two years because of her cooperation in the trial. The law for defaming the monarchy, an offense known as lese majeste, carries a penalty of three to 15 years imprisonment. It is widely referred to as Article 112 from its place in the Criminal Code.

Chonthicha was afterwards released on bail of 150,000 baht ($4,100). Had bail not been granted and she been sent directly to prison, she would have immediately been removed from her seat in Parliament.

She told reporters that she wasn’t surprised about the verdict as the majority of 112 charges led to convictions.

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