Anti-junta activist gets 11 years, 4 months in jail for lèse majesté

A military court has sentenced a supporter of anti-junta activists and the anti-establishment red shirts to 11 years and four months in prison for royal defamation.

On 27 January 2017, the Military Court of Bangkok handed a jail term to Burin Intin for offences under Article 112 of the Criminal Code — the lèse majesté law.

The military court reached the verdict after he pleaded guilty to the two counts of lèse majesté with which he was indicted. Burin was also indicted under Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act for publishing illegal computer content.

The first count concerned a Facebook comment that was posted shortly before he joined a protest on 27 April 2016. The second was a message on his private Facebook chat with Patnaree Chankij, the mother of Sirawit Serithiwat, a well-known anti-junta activist.

Burin, a welder from northern Thailand in his late 20s, was arrested during an anti-coup “Stand Still” protest held on 27 April 2016, at the Victory Monument in Bangkok. He has been in custody ever since his arrest.  

Unlike other protesters who were arrested and subsequently released, Burin was later taken by soldiers and detained at the 11th Military Circle base in Bangkok. After interrogation, the military accused him of two counts of lèse majesté.

According to Burin, the night when he was detained at the military base, army officers demanded his Facebook password, but he resisted by keeping his mouth shut.

Later a heavily-built man in plain clothes with a knitted hat gave Burin four hard slaps on the head, while an interrogation officer threatened him by saying, “You surely won’t survive. You won’t be able to get out [of this place]. If you won’t tell me [your password], I will take you somewhere where you will face even harsher treatment.”

Although Burin resisted giving his password to the authorities, police officers used conversations claimed to have been obtained from Burin’s Facebook inbox as supporting evidence to press charges against him.

More importantly, the supporting documents appear to have been prepared even before the police raided his house and confiscated his computer.