BANGKOK – A Thai court today acquitted a man held for nearly a year under controversial royal defamation laws after his own brother accused him of insulting the king in their home.
The unusual case raised concerns among rights activists that a suspect could be held without bail for so long under the lese majeste rules, on the basis of one person’s allegations of remarks made in private.
Bangkok’s Criminal Court dismissed the case against Yuthapoom Martnok, 36, who was accused of defaming the king while watching television at home in 2009, his lawyer Saovalux Pongam said.
“The judge said the brother had serious conflicts with the defendant, therefore the court must treat the plaintiff’s testimony cautiously,” Saovalux added.
The defendant’s wife Jongkol Khongtin, 36, said the two brothers had a history of feuding.
“Most of the time they barely talked to each other because they do not get along,” she told reporters after the verdict.
Yuthapoom – who denied the charges – had been held in the Bangkok Remand Prison since September 2012. Several requests for bail were denied.
“He should have been granted bail to fight the case. Putting him in jail for 11 months is like diminishing his rights as a being human,” Jongkol said, adding that she was now struggling with debts.
Jongkol said she hoped lese majeste allegations would be examined more carefully in the future before a suspect is indicted.