In discussing Somyos Prueksakasemsuk’s lese majeste case we referred to his extended incarceration without bail, delays and extensions during his trial, where he was repeatedly shackled and caged, and dragged around the country for court appearances in several provinces represented forms of torture.
In many cases, police, military and prosecutors seek to delay trials and usually refuse bail, all the time demanding a guilty plea. The “carrot” is that a guilty plea almost automatically reduces by half the usually long sentences handed out by royalist courts. This is coercion and it is also a form of torture.
Those who refuse to plead guilty will often face long periods of incarceration before a trial and, when sentenced, normally get huge sentences, are harassed in prison and are seldom considered for early release or pardon.
Prachatai reports on a case where many of these forms of torture have been used. Singer Tom Dundee (Thanat Thanawatcharanon), 58, has been on trial for almost two years and earlier spent 11 months in prison.
It is now reported that Tom has agreed to give up the fight to clear his name and has pleaded guilty on a lese majeste charge before the Criminal Court.
His lawyer states that Tom “might also plead guilty to another lèse majesté charge in the military court at the upcoming hearing on 21 June 2016.”
These charges arise from speeches he made at red shirt rallies and videos of them that were made available n the internet. He was the subject of complaints by the rabidly royalist group Network of Volunteer Citizens to Protect the Monarchy on Facebook. That complaint resulted in one lese majeste charge and is before the Criminal Court.
Another charge has been made since his initial incarceration and this case also involves allegations of computer crimes. Those charges are being heard before a military court.
Thanat explained “that he chose to plead guilty because he has been imprisoned for almost two years and he just wants to case to end as soon as possible in order to request for a royal pardon.” Torture, threats and carrots and sticks have worked.
With apparent glee, following his plea change, “the Criminal Court judges have scheduled a verdict hearing on the case at 10 am on 1 June.” That’s tomorrow.
He faces up to 30 years in jail on the lese majeste charges and up to 7 years on the computer crimes charge.