A 29-year-old man named Punyaphat made a number of posts on the Royalist Marketplace Facebook group questioning the popularity of the Thai royal family and King Vajiralongkorn’s frequent trips to Germany.
Siwapan Manitkul, a director of a local sports company, reported Punyaphat’s comments to the police and was charged as a result under section 112 of the national criminal code, also known as lese majeste. Siwapan is known to have reported at least 9 others in 2020 for alleged defamation of the royal family in social media postings.
Some Thai human rights lawyers reported that the Provincial Court of Samut Prakan ruled that 4 messages that Punyaphat posted on the Royalist Marketplace platform on May 9-10, 2020 were intended to incite hatred against the King and Queen and that the messages were false and slandered about the king.
He was sentenced by the court to 12 years in prison for royal defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act. The sentence was later reduced to 6 years because the suspect confessed.
Punyaphat’s mother revealed that her son suffers from attention deficit disorder and exhibits obsessive-compulsive behaviour. She also said that he has limited communication skills, and cannot control himself in stressful situations or leave the house alone. She added that he must be in the care of his family at all times and cannot find work due to his illness.
However, the court was convinced that Punyaphat could challenge the charges and that he did not need to see a psychiatrist because he himself was able to speak.
The nonprofit iLaw reported that a report from the probation officer did not mention Punyaphat’s mental illness, although his lawyers used his mental state to fight the charges. His condition is also said to be the reason why Punyaphat and his family decided to confess as he appears to have communication and personality issues.
Punyaphat’s lawyers paid bail to appeal the charges and added that sending him to prison would prevent treatment for his mental condition.
He was released on bail with a bond of 225,000 baht.
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