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Man gets 10 years for insulting monarchy

Written By vibykhmer on Friday, April 3, 2009 | 6:34 PM

Published: 4/04/2009 at 12:00 AM( bangkokpost)

The Criminal Court on Friday sentenced an internet user to 10 years in jail for posting web material deemed insulting to the royal family.

Suvicha: Worried about family

Suvicha Thakhor, a 34-year-old former oil engineer, held back tears as he listened to a brief statement by the court which found him guilty of posing a threat to national security.

It is the first lese majeste ruling based on the controversial 2007 Computer Crime Act which critics said could have an impact on online political debates.

The court cited offences under both the Computer Crime Act, which prohibits the posting and circulation of material regarded to be detrimental to national security or capable of stirring public panic, and the Criminal Code's lese majeste provision.

After Suvicha admitted the charges, the court reduced his jail term from 20 years to 10.

Suvicha, using an internet pseudonym, last year made available at the YouTube website an altered video clip and information which were found defamatory to the royal family, according to the court. It also said Suvicha conspired with associates, but did not name them, nor say to what extent his actions threatened domestic security.

Suvicha's lawyers said their client could appeal within a month.

Suvicha and his family burst into tears after leaving court.

"How can my family live without me? I need help," said Suvicha, a father of three.

He had spent time in prison since being arrested on Jan 14 after his bail request was denied.

Police told him to confess so that things could come to an end, he said.

"I have not met my children because I don't want them to see me here [in prison]," he said.

His wife, Thitima, said she was without work and worried about her children's future.

Suvicha's elder sister said she and her family would have to provide financial support to the children but this would be tough.

Supinya Klangnarong, of the Campaign for Popular Media Reform, said the verdict could have an impact on internet users. "It could affect many users who engage in political debates online. For them, the internet could now become a dangerous arena to exchange views," Ms Supinya said.


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