BANGKOK – A Thai Facebook user who went by the user name of “Yai Daengduad” was sentenced by a Thai military court to 50 years in jail for lese majeste, however his sentence was cut in half because he confessed.
Thiansutham, whose surname was withheld a 58-year-old engineer and entrepreneur, was found guilty on five counts for five of his Facebook posts made between July and November 2014. The court handed down a 10-year imprisonment sentence for each count, according to Thai media.
The court also said since the offense was against a highly respected institution and the punishment was already lenient — a lese majeste offence carries a jail term of 3-15 years — the sentence was not suspended.
The jail term included the detention period with police but not the 7-day detention under martial law.
The trial on Tuesday was held in closed session and relatives and observers were not allowed to attend, said Sasinan Thammanithinan, a lawyer from the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights group.
Thiansutham was arrested on Dec 18, 2014 and questioned at an army base before being handed over to the police to be formally charged.
He has since been detained at Bangkok Remand Prison. The court turned down all his bail applications.
According to iLaw, Yai Dangduad often posted political comments and was critical of the National Council for Peace and Order and the incumbent government. His posts usually contained graphics or memes slamming the government. Some of his posts also implicated the monarchy.
The military court’s decisions are final and no appeals are allowed. However, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday he would make it possible to appeal under the military court after martial law was lifted.
International rights groups have urged Thailand to ban trials of civilians in the single-tiered military court. The government explained the court handled only cases involving national security and lese majeste.