By PIYANUT TUMNUKASETCHAI,
PEOPLE WITH the potential to defame the monarchy will be divided into five watchlist groups for monitoring, Justice Minister General Paiboon Koomchaya said yesterday after chairing a meeting on how to tackle lese majeste offences. Some of these people wer
Paiboon said the five groups on the watchlist included those not facing arrest but who had gone abroad; those facing arrest and active abroad; those active in Thailand; those part of the watchlist with 135 names; and offenders’ allies.
The minister said these people were being assessed and their behaviour monitored in order to see if they were acting together as a network.
Police, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and other security agencies were involved. They were also tasked with extraditing offenders from abroad. A joint database among the Information and Communication Technology Ministry, police and the Army has been set up to process information gathered.
Paiboon said he understood that some countries did not recognise lese majeste as a crime and he did not expect these states to extradite violators. Nonetheless, he said the situation had to be clarified with other countries, as offenders often claimed that the charges were political.
On Monday, Paiboon handed a list of suspects facing lese majeste charges to French Ambassador to Thailand Thierry Viteau for acknowledgement. Viteau declined to comment about this.
Paiboon said Thailand did not want France to take action against these people – it just wanted the French government to know the facts and understand Thailand’s viewpoint. Some suspects were reported to have fled to France, which has no lese majeste law as it is a republic.
So far there are at least 30 Thais abroad facing lese majeste charges.
Meanwhile, the Military Court yesterday sentenced 10 members of the so-called anti-monarchy Banpodj network to five years for violating the lese majeste law.
The 10 were found guilty of spreading more than 400 video clips deemed defamatory toward the monarchy online between 2009 and early this year. All were found guilty of violating the lese majeste law yesterday, and violating the Computer Crime Act.
Eight of the 10 – including alleged ring-leader Hasadin Uraipraiwan aka Banpodj – were initially given a 10-year term, but this was halved to five years after they confessed.
The remaining two were given six years in jail, which was cut to three after they confessed.
Sasinan Thamnittinand, a defence lawyer, who represented eight of the defendants, asked why those who shared the clips were given the same sentence as Hasadin, who allegedly produced the content. However, she praised the court for not keeping the proceedings secret.
She said it might have to do with the growing public pressure, both local and abroad.
The fate of two more defendants, who chose to fight the case, is not yet known as the court did not make a ruling yesterday.