On 20 August 2015 it was reported that the Kamphaeng Phet provincial court had issued arrest warrants for Kittiphop Sitthirat, 23, Atsadaphon Sitthirat, 45, and Wiset Phutthasa, 30, on lese majeste accusations. Later, a fourth name was added, Noppharit (surname not known), 28. Surprise, surprise, some of them were arrested on 21 August 2015. Yes, just a day later.
They were accused of having made false claims about the monarchy, falsifying public documents, fraud, and impersonating officers from the Bureau of the Royal Household. They were said to have been using Princess Sirindhorn’s name in an alleged scam.
They all initially denied lese majeste charges when brought to court on 21 December 2015. Lawyers for one of the accused made an obvious submission, asking the court to consider whether the case falls under Article 112 since that law does not apply to Princess Sirindhorn:
Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, Heir-apparent or Regent shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.
She is none of those.
As has often been the case in the use of the lese majeste, the court chose to ignore the actual law and dismissed the request, saying “under the current procedure, it is not yet necessary to consider the request from the fourth suspect.”
Prachatai now reports that the provincial court has sentenced Kittiphop and Wiset. They were given jail terms of four years for lese majeste and three years and four months “for forging public documents and wearing uniforms of public officials without authorisation.”
As usual, because “the two pleaded guilty, the court, however, halved the total sentence for the two to three years and eight months imprisonment.”
The other two accused “have not pleaded guilty to the charges” and so are being kept in jail to “encourage” them to change their pleas and accept their “guilt.”
The lese majeste law has effectively been rewritten. These sentences suggest that the law should now read something like this:
Whoever defames, insults, threatens of says anything that someone in power thinks does this for the King, Queen, Heir-apparent, Regent, any other minor royal, a dead king, and ancient royal, or anyone else shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years, which can be multiplied several times when the prosecutors decide to treat each reference to one of these persons or dead persons as a case.
In other words, the actual law – the words used – no longer matter. Any royalist maniac can have the “authorities,” from The Dictator to a local cop, jump into action against anyone considered anti-royal or politically dangerous and get them jailed.