As expected, an appeals court has agreed with a lower court conviction of Piya J. for lese majeste.
Piya J. was arrested by police on 11 December 2014 for allegedly defaming the monarchy on Facebook with “defamatory” comments and pictures of the king on 27 and 28 July 2013.
He was convicted on 20 December 2016 and sentenced to 9 years, reduced by a third. Later, on 10 October 2016, he was sentenced to an additional 8 years on a second lese majeste charge associated with these posts, deemed defamatory of the king.
As is common in royalist Thailand, it was a bunch of lese majeste vigilantes who made the complaint in mid-2013.
Piya was said to have used the Facebook profile of Pongsathorn Bantorn. The police claim Piya, aged 46 at the time, and a computer programmer, admitted his guilt while under interrogation. Piya denied the charges and rejected the police claim of a confession. In fact, during the deposition hearing at the Criminal Court he claimed that the account was not his and that it was a fake account using his publicly available profile photo.
A former officer of the Stock Exchange of Thailand, Piya claims that he never participated in any political demonstrations and said that he had no interest in politics.
The court allowed a secret trial and the only incriminating evidence produced in this case is reportedly an image of the king on a mobile phone from about 2001. Other computer evidence and IP addresses were not considered on the case. According to a report of the case, there was only weak evidence against Piya.
The court accepted “evidence” given by Achariya Ruangratpong, one of the plaintiffs, as primary evidence of guilt, despite it essentially being hearsay.
The plaintiff told the court that Piya had used the name ‘Vincent Wang’ as his online identity and told the court that Piya used to reside in Don Muang District, which was consistent with the information from investigators that Piya once adopted the name Pongsathorn Bantorn at the Don Muang District Office.
Yes, that’s it. At least as far as we know from secret courts. Such flimsy “evidence” gets one sent to jail for years.