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Court acquits singer Tom Dundee on latest lese majeste charge

Jun 29. 2018
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By The Nation

The Ratchaburi Court on Friday acquitted singer Tom Dundee of a lese majeste charge, ruling that the indictment lacked clear evidence that the defendant had insulted the monarchy even though Tom had confessed to the crime.

The case was connected to a speech he delivered to a red-shirt rally in Ratchaburi Province in August 2010.

According to iLaw, Tom had turned himself in and acknowledged the charge in 2012. But he was not detained and there had been no movement on the case until prosecutor brought the case to the court in January of this year. Tom was already serving a jail sentence related to other lese majeste charges.

Tom, whose real name is Thanat Thanawatcharanon, had been indicted on four charges of lese majeste under Article 112 of the Penal Code. He had the largest number of lese majeste prosecutions under the current military-led rule, according to iLaw’s records.

The first two charges resulted from videos posted to YouTube in 2013 featuring speeches he made in 2009 with content deemed an insult to the monarchy. The court ruled in the first case that he was guilty and handed down a punishment of 15 years in jail for three counts of the crime. Because he had confessed, the sentence was reduced to seven years and six months.

He also confessed in the second YouTube video case and his sentence was reduced by two-thirds to three years and four months. In total, he must serve 10 years and 10 months in prison, and has so far been jailed for nearly four years since his July 2014 arrest.

Tom was indicted on two more charges while in jail. In addition to the Ratchaburi case, he was charged for a political speech he made in Lampoon Province in 2010. He also admitted to having committed a lese majeste crime, but the court dropped the case.

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