Despite lack of solid evidence, 61-year-old Thai man gets 20 years for lèse majesté

At the Criminal Court on 23 Nov, a guilty verdict was passed on 61-year-old Ampon (last name withheld) who was sentenced to twenty years in prison for allegedly insulting and threatening the Queen of Thailand. The Court sentenced him to 5 years on each of 4 counts under the lèse majesté law.

Ampon appeared in court by teleconference with about 30 reporters, friends, activists and family members witnessing the reading of the verdict.

The attempt by Ampon’s legal team to prove that the 14 digit IMEI number used in evidence against Ampon was not reliable was dismissed by the court. The court relied on the mobile phone log provided by service provider and police witnesses to convict him.

The judge said that the prosecution could not clearly prove that the defendant was the person who sent the offensive text messages to the mobile phone of the Secretary to the then Prime Minister.  But even so, because it is difficult for the prosecution to present compelling evidence, as the defendant who committed this offence would naturally conceal his actions so that others could not observe them, it is necessary to rely on circumstantial evidence which the prosecution presented to indicate the intentions of the defendant.

Ampon was convicted of violating the lèse majesté law and the computer-related crime act, but was sentenced under the lèse majesté as it carries the heavier penalty.  He was sentenced five years for each SMS message. He will be transferred to a prison for long-term convicts.

See details of the case at iLaw website: http://ilaw.or.th/node/1229

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