Thai Man gets record 50-Year sentence for royal defamation

The court of appeals in Chiang Rai sentenced Mongkol Thirakot, a former pro-democracy activist to 50 years in jail for violating the lese-majesty law, which prohibits any criticism of the king and his family.

A legal rights group reported that a Thai man received a 50-year prison sentence for insulting the monarchy, the longest imprisonment ever under the country’s harsh lese-majesty laws.

The unprecedented sentence followed a period of several years in which Thailand increased the enforcement of the legislation against pro-democracy demonstrators, a move that critics denounced as a way to suppress opposition.

A court of appeals in the northern city of Chiang Rai convicted Mongkol Thirakot, a 30-year-old former pro-democracy activist, to 50 years in prison for posts on his personal Facebook account that violated the lese-majesty law.

He had previously been sentenced to 28 years by a lower criminal court, but the appeal court found him guilty on 11 additional counts, resulting in the longer sentence.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said in a statement: “The appeal court sentenced Mongkol Thirakot to 22 years for 112 over his 27 Facebook posts, in addition to the 28-year sentence already passed by the preliminary court. His total jail sentence is 50 years.”

The lese-majesty law, which protects King Vajiralongkorn and his immediate family from any criticism, is commonly known as 112 in Thailand after the corresponding section of the criminal code.

TLHR said the sentence was the longest ever for royal defamation. The previous record of 43 years was given to a woman in 2021.

Mongkol, who runs an online clothing store, was first arrested in 2021 during a rally that called for the release of political prisoners.

In 2020 and 2021, youth-led protests that attracted tens of thousands of people demanded reforms to the strict lese-majesty laws.

TLHR said Mongkol would seek an appeal against the sentence at the supreme court.

According to TLHR, more than 250 activists have faced charges under lese-majesty laws since the 2020 protest movement started.

On Wednesday, one of the prominent protest leaders, Arnon Nampa, a lawyer, had his four-year lese-majesty sentence extended by another four years.

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