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Progressive MP in Thailand Sentenced to 6 Years for Insulting the Monarchy

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29-Year-Old MP in Thailand Sentenced to 6 Years for Insulting the Monarchy

On Wednesday, Thailand’s Criminal Court sentenced Move Forward Party MP Rukchanok Srinork to 6 years in prison without the possibility of parole for lese majeste and computer crime.

Following that, the judge granted her interim parole pending an appeal. Bail was set at 500,000 baht, and the MP was ordered not to engage in any acts comparable to those for which she was charged.

As a result, Ms. Rukchanok will be able to continue sitting as a Member of Parliament. If she had been detained, she would have lost her MP credentials, necessitating a by-election in her Bangkok constituency.

The court found Rukchanok, 29, guilty of posting about vaccination allocations on her Twitter account @nanaicez between July 18 and August 9, 2021, with images of His Majesty the King. She disputed all of the charges.

According to a court statement, one post accused the government of utilizing Covid-19 vaccine distribution to enhance the monarchy’s image, which the court constituted slander.

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Another was her forwarding of two other users’ graphically written tweets on Twitter, which the court said showed “great malice” towards the king. According to the court, throughout police interrogation, Rukchanok showed no desire to submit evidence to defend her innocence.

This behavior, according to the report, was “unusual for general Thai people who have prolonged the culture and attitude of respect for kings that has continued for generations” .

Rukchanok appeared to the court to hear the ruling with former Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat, who is now the party’s chief adviser, and party leader Chaithawat Tulathon, who served as her lawyer.

She had already attempted, but failed, to postpone the verdict because Wednesday was the first day of the new House session.

She indicated she was confident in her defense before going inside.

Rukchanok merely grinned as she was led to a holding cell in the court building to await the outcome of her bail application. Mr Chaithawat stated that he would use his MP status as a surety in order to obtain her interim release.

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Rukchanok won one of the most stunning victories in the May 14 general election, taking Bangkok Constituency 28, which encompasses Bang Bon, the Yubamrung family’s stronghold. She defeated Wan Yubamrung, the son of prominent politician Chalerm Yubamrung, by more than 20,000 votes.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) figures show that 1,935 persons have been punished for political participation and expression from the start of the Free Youth rallies against Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha’s military-linked government in July 2020. At least 262 people are facing lese-majeste accusations under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, while 135 are facing sedition charges under Section 116.

Following the May election, the pace of lese-majeste charges and convictions has remained unchanged.

Human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa is one of the most notable people convicted of lese-majeste and denied bail pending an appeal. Following the rejection of three applications for interim release by the courts, he asked his lawyers to discontinue future attempts.

Mr Arnon has been held at the Bangkok Remand Prison since his September 26 sentencing in connection with a speech he gave at a pro-democracy protest in October 2020. He is still facing 13 more Section 112 counts.

Arnon previously stated in a letter released through THLR that bail should be the right of every individual until a case is resolved, and that the Supreme Court’s rejection of his bail application was not surprising for a political case and for a political prisoner like him.

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