The Nation



Red leader jailed for lese majeste

The Criminal Court yesterday sentenced red-shirt leader Surachai Saedan to two and a half years in prison for violating the lese majeste law.

Surachai, 70, is a leader of the Daeng Siam (Red Siam) group. He is also a former Thai Rak Thai parliamentary candidate.

Surachai was sued over his address to a red-shirt rally at Samakkhitham Temple in Bangkok on February 5 and 6 last year. The sentence was five years in prison, but he confessed, so the penalty was halved.

However, Surachai has also received jail terms totalling seven and a half years for three other cases, so his total jail term is 10 years. Surachai has been detained on the lese majeste charge since last February.

In a separate development, red-shirt lawyer Karom Poltaklang petitioned the Constitution Court to examine whether the penalty for violating Article 112 of the penal code, the lese majeste law, is unconstitutional.

Karom represents another red-shirt leader, Voice of Taksin magazine editor Somyos Prueksakasem-suk, in a separate lese majeste case.

He questioned whether the penalty for lese majeste offences violated the charter's Article 3, on the people's sovereignty, and Article 29, on the people's rights and freedoms. The penalty for violating the lese majeste law is three to 15 years in prison.

Karom compared the penalty for inciting people to commit crimes that threaten national security with the penalty for breaking the lese majeste law. While no minimum penalty is identified for the former offence, he said, the latter prescribes at least three years in prison.

Karom said Article 112 does not allow people who have been charged to defend themselves properly, while the charter says the King is also under Thai Constitution.

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