BANGKOK – A 67-year-old Thai man has been charged with insulting the monarchy after scribbling anti-royal comments on public toilet walls, an official said Friday, the latest charge under the controversial lese majeste law.
Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 86, is protected by tough royal defamation rules under which anyone convicted of insulting the king, queen, heir or regent faces up to 15 years in prison on each count.
Opas Charnsooksai was arrested by the military in a shopping mall in eastern Bangkok Wednesday for writing anti-monarchy messages in the public toilets, army officer Burin Thongprapai told AFP.
“Security guards at the mall discovered he had written insulting comments on walls in the restroom… He confessed to the charge of lese majeste,” he said, adding they had obtained CCTV evidence against Opas.
The accused will now be tried in a military court – with no right to appeal – under martial law, which was imposed by the army two days before it seized power in May’s coup.
Meanwhile, a group of ultra-royalists have accused a prominent Thai historian Sulak Sivaraksa of defaming the monarchy by raising doubts about a historic elephant battle between an ancient Thai King and a Burmese general 400 years ago.
The royalists filed a lese majeste (insult of monarchy) complaint against the author, Sulak Sivaraksa, at Chanasongkram Police Station in Bangkok today, according a report on Khoasod news site.
Lt.Gen. Padung Niwetsuwan, a member of the group, said the 82-year-old writer insulted the Thai monarchy by questioning the accomplishments of King Naresuan, who ruled ancient Thailand – known then as Ayutthaya Kingdom – between 1590 and 1605.
It is unclear whether police will take any action against Sulak. A self-identified “royalist reformer,” Sulak has faced previous charges of lese majeste for making frank statements about the Thai Royal Family, though none of the charges have been taken up in court.