Former insurance agent sentenced to 35 years in jail for insulting Thai monarchy

Sentence is the longest-ever under the country’s strict royal defamation laws, says human rights group

Former insurance agent sentenced to 35 years in jail for insulting Thai monarchy

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

A former insurance salesman in Thailand was sentenced to 35 years in prison for insulting the monarchy, which human rights groups say is the harshest ever lèse majesté sentence handed down by the country’s military junta.

Vichai Thepwong, 34, was initially sentenced to 70 years but it was halved due to his guilty plea for 10 counts of violating Article 112 of the Thai criminal code. He was arrested in 2015 for allegedly posting 10 images and status messages on Facebook that were judged as insulting to the monarchy.

“This is the longest sentence for Article 112 verdicts ever recorded,” a representative of iLaw, a Thai legal monitoring group, told Channel News Asia. Vichai’s sentence broke the record of a 30-year sentence that was handed down two years ago.

Since seizing power in a coup d’état in 2014, Thailand’s military government has filed cases against 73 individuals for allegedly defaming the monarchy. It has also been accused by human rights groups of online censorship, which the government uses to act against what it perceives as threats to national security and insults to the nation’s royal family.

Khumklao Songsonboon, Vichai’s attorney and a member of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, said that his client is not planning to file an appeal.

“He wants the case to end, and wants to petition for a royal pardon,” the lawyer said.

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