Updated: Lese majeste and hi-so fraud and deception

Reports of a “socialite” being investigated for having engaged in fraud and human trafficking got PPT’s attention about a week ago, but insufficient for a post. After all, the rich in Thailand are renowned for involvement in all kinds of scams that they can engage in with impunity. Even human trafficking has long been associated with the rich and powerful.

The complaint against “Ying Kai” or Montra Yokrattanakan [“Monta” in some reports] was made and she made counter-claims, declaring that the “maids” who complained had stolen from her. She mentioned that this included “40 gold bars, a gold ornament and a diamond necklace, worth more than 10 million baht in all.”Monta

We did then note what seemed, at the time, an oddity, in a report of the “maids” making a counter-counter-claim:

On June 17, four days before the young woman was scheduled to report to Pracha Chuen police, lawyer Songkran Athariyasap stepped in to help the family. Mr Songkran, who is also the chairman of a group called the Network against Acts that Destroy Kingdom, Religion and Monarchy, took the three to submit a petition to the CSD on June 21 to seek justice.

The involvement of the ultra-royalist lawyer became clearer when Khaosod reported that the “Criminal Court on Thursday ordered a businesswoman to be imprisoned for 12 days as she awaits trial on several grave offenses, including, most notably, insulting the monarchy [lese majeste].” We noted that it refers to the Criminal Court rather than the Military Court.

Despite the “series of allegations of human trafficking and abusing justice system for the last week,” it is reported that “the investigation took a dramatic turn today after police also charged her with royal defamation [lese majeste], a crime punishable by up to 15 years in jail.”

Police investigators had “requested that she be held in remand, citing a fear that she may interfere with evidence if freed on bail.” Montra posted a bail request, but “the court … ruled against Monta and ordered her to be jailed. She was taken directly to the Central Women’s Correctional Institution.”

She now faces charges of “human trafficking, filing false complaints to police, harassment and insulting the monarchy [lese majeste].”

On the lese majeste charges, precious few details have been provided, with police saying “saying that Monta made false claims that she has a royal bloodline, and that she was also bestowed a royal title by … the King.” The officer in charge stated: “She falsely claimed ties to the High Institution [the monarchy]…. Please don’t go into details about this case. It’s a sensitive matter.” The Bangkok Post had earlier reported “that she was a khunying, a title bestowed by the King.”

Needless to say, there is more to this story than is currently reported. For a start, the case has echos of earlier cases of lese majeste linked to Crown Prince Vajiralonkorn and the mass arrests and jailing on lese majeste charges that followed his estrangement from then Princess Srirasmi.

One report says Montra has denied all charges and allegations. As previously has happened in several similar cases, we might expect the innocent plea to be changed to guilty and for her to be quickly jailed.

Update: The Nation reports that “Central Investigation Bureau chief Pol General Thitirat Nonghanpithaks saying on Friday that a probe found Monta may have ‘uncontrollable behaviour’ which, if not treated, could cause her to commit illegal activities and injury to others.” Despite this, and as seen in several lese majeste cases, mental illness seems not to be a defense. Indeed, the report states: “Monta ‘Ying Kai’ Yokratanakan will still be punished if found guilty of a string of charges even if it were discovered she has a mental illness, police have said.”

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