Prachatai: December 12, 2012

http://www.prachatai3.info/english/node/3454

 

Sukanya Prueksakasemsuk’s letter to her husband Somyot in prison, and the 112 Family Network’s invitation to Somyot’s court appearance on 19 Dec.

000

Week 78 of prolonged detention

9 December 2012

Dear P’Yot,

I was happier this week but still very busy from the year-end appraisal of my direct reports and other urgent matters which were unplanned and deadlines set this week. Anyway I managed to take a break with Tian to see the lights on Uttayan Road while I drove her to the dormitory. This road has another name of Axis (pronounced Ax-xa in Thai) located on Bhuddamonthon 4 and it was the most expensive road. It was constructed at the time of Field Marshal Por in 2498 (Buddhist Era) and was put on hold for a long time after the coup by Field Marshal Sarit. It was just finished in 2542. This road is 4 kilometers long and is decorated with lamp all the way down the road. When the lamps are turned on at night, it is so beautiful, perhaps the most beautiful road in Thailand!  When I thought about it, if we didn’t have so many coups, this road would have been finished earlier. When someone said coups would help stop corruption and ensure national development, I wouldn’t agree. If so, how come we took 44 years to construct this road? And this road was the most expensive ever; just 4 kilometers cost almost THB 1,100 million. Roughly divided by 4, it cost THB 500 million per kilometer.

Yesterday I attended the launch of a new book “Rak Auy” (Love) written by Pa Ueh (Ah Kong’s wife) which was organized by the Read Publishing House. The event began in the morning but I just joined them in the afternoon when Ajarn Somsak spoke about the root cause of tragedy of Ah Kong. I was invited to talk about this book but hadn’t yet read it before this event. So I had to prepare myself and read it. Before that I was afraid of crying and depression; you know it’s hard to control myself when I have to face other’s people sad stories. Anyway, when I read it, it didn’t shake my heart as I expected. Pa Ueh described her romantic married life with Ah Kong. There was a beautiful moment when I read that Ah Kong found a pleated skirt which he thought suited Pa Ueh perfectly. He bought it immediately without hesitation but then thought that a green skirt might not go well with Pa Ueh’s skin tone. These small things that expressed the love of Ah Kong and Pa Ueh were the natural expression of an older generation like our parents. It is regrettable that Pa Ueh has no opportunity to live together with her loved one, and did not even have a chance to say good bye before his last breath. Oh! The unlawful article 112 put our lives in danger and in trouble.

It is late and time to go to bed now. I wish you courage to continue fighting against the unlawful law. Sooner or later we will see the light of fairness. We believe in a universal fairness i.e. the right to bail, freedom of speech, freedom of writing and publishing as well as democracy where everyone, whether rich or poor, will have equality. That day will come soon.

Love you as always.

Joop

[CJ Hinke of FACT comments: Chotisak and Chutima were early signers of FACT’s petition against all censorship. We’re very happy for them. When will the next Thai Rosa Parks just be too damned tired to stand up for the Royal anthem? Not standing is not a crime! We would be curious to know if a law such as the Film Act is used to compel theatre owners to play the anthem before each showing? Or is it just meaninglessly repeated social convention…as is standing?]

Prachatai: July 20, 2012

http://www.prachatai3.info/english/node/3299

 

The public prosecutor has decided to drop a lèse majesté case against Chotisak Onsoong and his friend who did not stand up for the royal anthem in a Bangkok cinema in 2007.

Wisit Sukyukhon, a public prosecutor, sent a letter on 11 April this year to Pathumwan police who first took up the case, to inform them about the decision.

On 20 Sept 2007, at a cinema in the Central World shopping complex in downtown Bangkok, Chotisak, 26, and his female friend, whose name is withheld, had a heated argument with Navamintr Witthayakul, 40, who was among the audience, after the two ignored Navamintr’s demand for them to stand up for the royal anthem which precedes every movie shown in Thailand’s cinemas.

Chotisak called the police and filed complaints at Pathumwan police station against Navamintr for verbal and physical abuse, damage to personal property and coercion, while Navamintr filed a lèse majesté complaint against them.

In April 2008, Chotisak and his friend were charged with lèse majesté by the police.

In Sept 2008, the public prosecutor dropped the physical abuse charges against Navamintr, and in Oct 2008 the police forwarded the lèse majesté case against Chotisak and his friend to the public prosecutor.

According to the letter, the prosecutor believes that by not standing up for the royal anthem, and by saying ‘Why is it necessary to stand up when it is not required by law?’, the actions of the accused did not constitute insults or defamation.

Although the behaviour of the accused was improper and should not be copied by others, their actions cannot be pinpointed as having the intention to insult the King, and there is insufficient evidence to justify their prosecution, the prosecutor says.

In a similar case on the iLaw website, one moviegoer at the Major Cineplex Ratchayothin on 15 Jun 2008 did not stand up for the royal anthem, lifted both her feet onto the next chair, and after the anthem was over, shouted vulgar words.

On 19 Oct 2009, the court found her guilty under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, and sentenced her to three years in prison, but the jail term was reduced by half and suspended for two years as she had pleaded guilty and had a history of mental illness, according to the testimony of doctors from Srithanya and Trang Hospitals.

Source: 

http://www.prachatai.com/journal/2012/07/41608

[FACT comments: BP is quite right in pointing out this anomaly. What exactly is jurisprudence if not for finding out the truth? Unfortunately, defamation conviction worldwide reveal a bitter side effect. For defamation to be criminal, it simply doesn’t matter if the substance of the defamation is a true statement or an outright lie.]

Bangkok Pundit: July 19, 2012

http://asiancorrespondent.com/86039/thai-judge-what-will-be-gained-from-finding-out-the-truth/

 

Pravit in The Nation on the latest lese majeste trial of Ekachai Hongkangwan, a man arrested for selling a news documentary made by Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

Ekachai’s defence lawyer Arnon Nampha tried to dwell on the facts of some of the information deemed as defamatory – whether it was true or not. But the judges told him they were not out to prove whether the alleged defamatory statements in the video and texts were accurate in reality or not.

“Whether it’s true or not, if you prove it, what will be gained from it?” one of the presiding judges said to Arnon.

BP: Then again, truth is not a defence in a lese majeste case in Thailand so perhaps it is not surprising. Nevertheless, when it comes from a judge it still sounds disconcerting….

[FACT comments: You’d have to be plain crazy to pop the bird at the King…or even his visage. Thai courts won’t buy the truth; can they be expected to take bona fide medical reasons into consideration?]

Woman to face royal insult charge pending mental examination

The Nation: July 19, 2012

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Woman-to-face-royal-insult-charge-pending-mental-e-30186512.html

 

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung on Thursday confirmed police would charge a woman accused of insulting the monarchy if she was found to be sane in the mental status examination.

“I confirm police will legal action,” he said, dismissing speculation about police inaction.

On Friday, Thitinan Juntaranont, Thai expatriate from New Zealand and seen as a red shirt, defiled the picture of the King displayed at the multi-colour shirt rally during the Constitution Court verdict session on charter change.

Policemen promptly intervened to escort her from the scene and refused to press charge on grounds for suspected insanity.

A number of activists stepped forward to criticise police for drawing a hasty conclusion before sending the accused for psychological evaluation.

On Tuesday following the spread of messages in the social media, a number of Thais rallied at Suvarnabhumi Airport in a bid prevent Thitinan from boarding a flight to Auckland.

Police subsequently clarified that Thitinan was admitted to the Galya Rajanagarindra Institute to undergo mental tests.

 

Woman held for making rude gestures

The Nation July 19, 2012

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Woman-held-for-making-rude-gestures-30186466.html

 

City police have assigned a team to look into allegations that Thitinant Kaewchantranont, a 63-year-old New Zealand resident, had made an improper gesture toward an image of His Majesty the King outside the Constitution Court on Friday, Metropolitan Police deputy commander Pol Maj-General Anuchai Lekbumrung said yesterday.

The woman, who was born in Thailand, was stopped from boarding a flight to Auckland and is currently being detained at the Galaya Rajanagarindra Institute.

Thitinant will face lese majeste charges, though a psychiatrist will also determine the state of her mind, he said. She reportedly has a history of mental illness and had undergone treatment at Sri Thanya Hospital.

Meanwhile, Immigration Police Office 2 commander Pol Maj-General Natthorn Phrosunthorn said that Thitinant’s name was not included in the list of those leaving the country nor was there an arrest warrant out for her. However, he added, that police had notified his office at 4pm yesterday to stop her from leaving the country. He said Thitinant’s two relatives were able to travel to Auckland as normal.

Amornrat Mahitthirook

Bangkok Post: July 18, 2012

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/302972/lese-majeste-suspect-admitted-to-hospital

A New Zealand-resident Thai woman accused of a lese majeste offence did not show up for a flight to Auckland yesterday after police admitted her to hospital.

 Self-appointed yellow shirt vigilantes showed up at the airport, supposedly to ensure that Thitinant Kaewchantranont (inset) did not leave for New Zealand. [Post Today]

About 200 people had turned up at Suvarnabhumi airport to protest against her possible departure.

Protesters picketed outside the airport after learning that Thitinant Kaewchantranont, 63, was due to check in for a Thai Airways International (THAI) flight to Auckland.

Danuj Bunnag, managing director for THAI’s ground services business unit, said Ms Thitinant did not arrive at Suvarnabhumi to check in for the flight, although her husband, a New Zealand national, did get on board.

Ms Thitinant has a history of mental illness.

Thung Song Hong police in Bangkok, who have lodged a lese majeste complaint against her, referred her to Srithanya Hospital in Nonthaburi to see if she is genuinely mentally ill.

 Thitinant: History of mental illness

She has since been referred to the Galaya Rajanagarindra Institute.

She was admitted to the hospital on Friday last week after allegedly making an improper gesture towards an image of His Majesty the King outside the Constitution Court on the same day.

Police said that if Ms Thitinant had shown up at the airport, officers would have prevented her from boarding, as they believed she was unfit to leave the country.

A THAI source said the plane’s captain had pledged to refuse to pilot the aircraft if Ms Thitinant was on board, arguing the woman could pose a security risk.

Protesters left the airport after they were told Ms Thitinant had not turned up for the flight and was being assessed at a hospital.

 

[CJ Hinke of FACT comments: There is a plot! The court is telling an accused he can’t plead not guilty! Unbelievable… The goal is obviously conviction at all costs.]

LESE MAJESTY LAW

Court defers lese majeste case, defence advised

Pravit Rojanaphruk

The Nation:July 20, 2012

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Court-defers-lese-majeste-case-defence-advised-30186584.html

 

Ekachai Hongkangwan’s lese majeste trial has been deferred to mid-November after judges advised the defendant to change his plea by saying that he had no intention to defame the monarchy but that he merely wanted to share information.

One of the two presiding judges said the defendant did not necessarily have to prove if the information was factual or not. “Because if it is true, it is more defamatory and if it isn’t true, then it’s super defamatory,” Judge Aphisit Veeramitchai explained to lawyer Arnon Nampha and the defendant yesterday. “So proving whether the information is factual or not will not be beneficial to you at all… You have to consider this yourself.”

The judge went on to say that the prosecutors were not out to prove if the information provided in a Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) documentary or on a WikiLeaks cable was factual or not. “They say the content defames [the monarchy],” he said.

However, in his rebuttal, Arnon said that he and his client still wanted to prove the factuality of the information referred to in the documentary, which led to Ekachai’s arrest. Police arrested Ekachai on March 10 last year after he was caught carrying two sets of WikiLeaks diplomatic cable papers as well as peddling unauthorised CDs of the ABC documentary at Bt20 apiece. He was released on bail nine days later.

Arnon told the judges that he had already filed three court requests to summon Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda and Councillor Sith Savetsila to explain their remarks on the future of the monarchy that were referred to in the WikiLeaks papers. He went on to say that he personally believed that Prem and Sith would be truthful about whether the information attributed to them on WikiLeaks was indeed a fact.

After nearly 30 minutes of consultation and 20 minutes of recess, all sides agreed that the trial should be deferred to November and that the defence would focus on proving that Ekachai had no intention to defame the Crown Prince or the monarchy.

However, the defence lawyer said he reserved the right to have the court summon Prem and Sith in case the prosecution still wished to prove the factuality of the information. The court has also accepted the defence lawyer’s request to seek a Constitution Court ruling as to whether or not the lese majeste law contradicts the Constitution because Arnon’s argument is that it violates freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, 36-year-old Ekachai said he still wants to prove that none of the information provided in the documentary or the WikiLeaks papers was provided with malicious intent.

The former lottery agent went on to say that it was imperative for Prem and Sith to testify, adding “I don’t think I will get away by trying to fight on the basis of my intention”.

Pravit Rojanaphruk

The Nation: July 18, 2012

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Lese-majeste-trial-begins-of-man-caught-selling-de-30186379.html

 

The lese majeste trial of Ekachai Hongkangwan, a man arrested for peddling pirated copies of a news documentary produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) about the future of the Thai monarchy and the lese majeste law began yesterday.

Ekachai, who is in his thirties, said he hoped to establish the fact that the video, along with two manuscripts of WikiLeaks cables he is being charged for under the lese majeste law were factual and did not constitute defamation of the monarchy.

He was arrested on March 10 last year for selling pirated CD copies of the ABC documentary for Bt20 each and detained for nine days before being released on bail.

“I don’t think the content is defamatory,” he told The Nation just before the trial began.

Ekachai hoped that the ABC, which is funded by the Australian government, would issue a statement stating that the documentary, which he illicitly copied and peddled, did not contain anything fabricated, non-factual or defamatory.

No correspondents from the ABC were present at the trial yesterday, which Ekachai said suggested made him feel that they lacked “compassion”. However, Zoe Daniel, the ABC’s Bangkok-based Southeast Asia correspondent, tweeted yesterday that she was in India and unable to cover the trial.

Ekachai handed The Nation a copy of an e-mail from the ABC dated August 15 last year, stating that it was not in a position to assist and that the programme was made for an Australian audience.

“We did not in any way encourage people to take the type of action that you say you took. In fact, that action breached the ABC’s copyright in the programme,” wrote Rob Simpson, the ABC director for Legal and Business Affairs. “In these circumstances the ABC will not be providing any statements. There should be no further need to contact the ABC. In particular, you should not contact any of our staff in Thailand as they have had nothing to do with the programme.”

The only sympathy from the ABC was one polite sentence from Simpson saying: “I am sorry to hear the issues that you face.”

At the beginning of the trial yesterday the presiding judges wanted to hold the trial in camera but The Nation objected, saying it was constitutional and that holding a trial in secret was contrary to standard legal procedure in democratic countries. The judges eventually allowed observers to remain but the video was not shown.

Police Lieut Major Somyot Udomraksasab, who ordered the arrest of Ekachai, stood as one of two prosecution witnesses yesterday. He said he believed the ABC report, which contains video footage involving HRH the Crown Prince, was defamatory. Somyot also testified that he believed that WikiLeaks texts claiming to refer to words by leading Thai politicians such as the late prime minister Samak Sundaravej, former premier Anand Panyarachun and Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanond also contained defamatory remarks about the monarchy.

Ekachai’s defence lawyer Arnon Nampha tried to dwell on the facts of some of the information deemed as defamatory – whether it was true or not. But the judges told him they were not out to prove whether the alleged defamatory statements in the video and texts were accurate in reality or not.

“Whether it’s true or not, if you prove it, what will be gained from it?” one of the presiding judges said to Arnon.

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