Thai man to face military court for royal dog joke

Thong Daeng's statue at the Dog Care Centre in Hua Hin District of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province (Photo from http://radio.prd.go.th)
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Agreeing with a provincial court, the Court Jurisdiction Committee has concluded that a lèse majesté suspect accused of mocking the late King’s favourite dog will be tried in a military court.

On 26 June 2017, the Military Court of Bangkok read the conclusion of the Court Jurisdiction Committee on the case against Thanakorn S., a 27-year-old man from Samut Prakan Province.

Thanakorn was indicted under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, for clicking ‘like’ and posting or sharing a message mocking Thong Daeng on facebook. Thong Daeng, now deceased, was the late King Bhumibol’s favourite pet.

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Along with Article 112, he also faces charge under Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act for the alleged lèse majesté post. In a separate case, he was indicted with Article 116 of the Criminal Code, the sedition law, for having posted an infographic on the Rajabhakti Park corruption scandal on Facebook.

The Court Jurisdiction Committee concluded that the military court has the jurisdiction to try Thanakorn according to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s announcement No. 37/2014 and No. 38/2014.

In brief, the announcements state that crimes related to national security, including royal defamation are to be tried by military courts.

The judgement of the committee confirmed the Bangkok’s Military Court and Samut Prakan Provincial Court.

To no avail, Thanakorn submitted a request to the military court on 9 June 2016, arguing that he should tried by the civilian court not the military court.

Three days after the coup d’état on 22 May 2014, the military made an announcement that cases related to national security, which includes Thailand’s most controversial law, Article 112 of the Criminal Code known as lese majeste law, would fall under the jurisdiction of the military court.

According to iLaw, an advocacy group promoting legal awareness on human rights, military courts tend to hand out heavier sentences to suspects of Article 112 in comparison to the civilian courts.

Thanakorn was arrested at his house in Samut Prakan Province on 8 December 2015 by military and police officers who invoked Section 44 of the Interim Constitution. Section 44 gives the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order absolute authority for the purpose of maintain national security.

Thanakorn was detained for about three months before Bangkok’s Military Court granted him 500,000 baht bail. – Prachatai English

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