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in-focus

Court dismisses lese majeste charge against mother of activist Sirawith


The Criminal Court has dismissed a lese majeste charge against Patnaree Charnkij, the mother of political activist Sirawith “Ja New” Seritiwat.

Police had accused her of replying “Ja” (Yeah) to Burin Intin, a lese majeste suspect, in a private Facebook message on March 12, 2016. Burin was later jailed for 11 years over the post.

Police said Patnaree’s single-word response constituted an offence under Section 112 of the criminal code, also known as the lese majeste law.

However, the court’s examination of the case found Patnaree had no intention to undermine members of Thai royal family. Academics who inspected the evidence said that the comment “Ja” could not be interpreted as a lese majeste violation.

Patnaree burst into tears on hearing the not guilty verdict, saying that she should not have been accused in the first place and was only targeted because of her son Sirawith’s activities.

Sirawith is leader of the Resistant Citizen group and a well-known critic of the military junta that ruled at the time of his mother’s arrest. He has been attacked and beaten several times by anonymous assailants in what observers suspect are attempts to silence his criticism of authorities.

Patnaree asked the prosecutor not to appeal the case as it had already been heard behind closed doors by a military court, before being transferred to the civilian court.

Published : December 22, 2020

By : The Nation