POLITICAL activist and country singer Thanat Thanawatcharanon was yesterday acquitted of another lese majeste charge, after the court ruled there was no clear evidence he had insulted the monarchy even though he had confessed to the crime.
The Ratchaburi Provincial Court verdict yesterday was the second of four lese majeste cases against the singer.
This case stemmed from a speech Thanat, better known as Tom Dundee, delivered at a red-shirt rally in Ratchaburi province in August 2010.
According to rights defenders iLaw, Thanat turned himself in and acknowledged the charge in 2012.
But he was not detained and legal action was shelved until the prosecutor brought the case to court in January, this year. Meanwhile, he was already serving a jail sentence after being found guilty in his first lese majeste case. Thanat had been indicted on four charges of lese majeste under Article 112 of the Penal Code – the highest number of such prosecutions under the current junta regime, according to iLaw.
The first two charges resulted from YouTube videos posted in 2013 featuring speeches he made in 2009. The first case saw him handed 15 years in jail for three counts of insulting the monarchy but the sentence was reduced to seven years and six months since he had confessed.
Thanat also confessed to charges in the second YouTube video case, where his sentence was reduced by two-thirds to three years and four months. In total, he has to serve 10 years and 10 months in prison, and has so far been jailed for nearly four years since his July 2014 arrest. He was indicted on two more charges while in jail.
In March, the court acquitted Thanat of lese majeste for his political speech in northern Lamphun province in 2010, on the grounds that there was not sufficient evidence.