Thai activists convicted for insulting monarchy

2015-02-23 11:27
Thai students and activists link hands while shouting slogans after a court announced the verdict on two Thais accused of insulting the monarchy in a university play in Bangkok. (Pornchai Kittiwong Sakul, AFP)

Thai students and activists link hands while shouting slogans after a court announced the verdict on two Thais accused of insulting the monarchy in a university play in Bangkok. (Pornchai Kittiwong Sakul, AFP)

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Bangkok - A court in Thailand on Monday sentenced two theatre activists charged with insulting Thailand's monarchy to two and a half years in prison each.

The pair was involved in producing a play called "The Wolf Bride" about a fictional monarch and his adviser. It was performed at Bangkok's Thammasat University in 2013 to mark the anniversary of a successful 1973 anti-dictatorship uprising led by students.

Thailand's lese majeste law is the world's harshest, carrying a punishment of three to 15 years in jail for anyone who defames, insults, or threatens the monarchy.

Anyone can file a lese majeste complaint with police, and the charge has frequently been used as a weapon to harass political enemies. In this case, a group calling itself the Royal Monarch Alert Protection Network filed the complaint.

The pair, a university student and a recent graduate who are both in their 20s, had been in jail since last August and their bail requests were repeatedly turned down by a Bangkok court. Both had pleaded guilty, a common practice in lese majeste cases, in December.

In announcing the verdict, a Bangkok Criminal Court judge said the play contained content that insulted and defamed the monarchy and was shown in front of a large number of spectators.

Pawinee Chumsri, the pair's lawyer, told reporters the pair was not likely to appeal.

The military-installed government that seized power from an elected administration in last May's coup has made defending the monarchy a priority in an effort to ensure stability toward the end of 87-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej's reign.

Read more on:    thailand

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