BANGKOK – A Thai court on Tuesday sentenced a 65-year-old woman to more than 43 years in prison for sharing online posts criticizing the royal family. This is the harshest punishment in the country that has ever been imposed for insulting the monarchy.
Their verdict comes at a time of unprecedented youth-led demonstrations in which protest The heads of state and government have openly criticized the monarchy and risk prosecution under the strict Thai law known as lese majeste, which carries a 15-year sentence for any violation.
Anchan Preelert pleaded guilty to having committed 29 different violations of sharing and posting clips on YouTube and Facebook between 2014 and 2015, her lawyer Pawinee Chumsri told Reuters.
Anchan was originally sentenced to 87 years, but because she recognized her violations, the court cut it in half, the lawyer said.
“This is the highest sentence ever imposed in a force majeure case,” said Pawinee, who hails from the Thai human rights lawyer group.
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Anchan, who could not be reached for comment, can appeal the verdict in two higher courts, Pawinee said.
Amnesty International expressed dismay at what two Thai rights groups described as the longest sentence in Thailand for insulting the monarchy.
Security officials ransacked Anchan’s home in January 2015, months after a civilian government was overthrown in a military coup.
Her case, which was originally brought before a military tribunal, was referred to a civil court following a 2019 parliamentary election that left former junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister.
According to the Legal Group, at least 169 people were charged with majesty after the 2014 coup, with some cases taking years to complete.
Authorities briefly stopped applying the Majesty’s Law in 2018, but police began appealing again late last year after leaders openly criticized the monarchy in protests, in which tens of thousands of people participated.
More than 40 youth activists have been charged under the law since November. None of these cases have been brought to justice.
On Monday, another man arrested in 2014 was sentenced to more than four years in prison after posting articles and poems online that the court said contained untruths about the monarchy.