(CTN News) – A Thai court sentenced a man to 50 years in prison for defaming the monarchy, the most severe term ever imposed under the country’s notorious lese majeste statute.
Mongkol Thirakot, thirty, was originally sentenced to 28 years in prison for Facebook statements he wrote three years ago.
However, on Thursday, an appeals court added an additional 22 years to the sentence.
The lese majeste statute makes any disparaging remarks about the monarchy illegal.
Thailand’s Notorious Lese Majeste Law: Man Receives 50-Year Sentence, Appeals Court Adds More Years
Despite the election of a civilian government last year for the first time in ten years, the widely condemned law remains in effect.
At the hearing on Thursday, the court stated that he had already reduced Mr Thirakot’s sentence by one-third due to the defendant’s cooperative attitude.
Mr Thirakot, an online apparel dealer from Chiang Rai province, has not been given an explanation for his hefty sentencing. The judge alluded to many Facebook comments, and Thai courts often add further convictions for each individual post.
The lese majeste statute was momentarily suspended at the commencement of King Vajiralongkorn’s reign in 2019, but has been restored and widely used since the outbreak of historic student-led demonstrations three years ago, which demanded major monarchical reforms.
Arnon Nampa, an activist and lawyer who initially advocated for a public debate about the monarchy, had his prison sentence raised by four years on Wednesday.
Later in January, the Constitutional Court will decide whether to dissolve Move Forward, the young party that won the most votes in last year’s general election, over its proposal to amend the lese majeste law, which some Thai conservatives argue amounts to an attempt to overthrow the entire political order.