Political activist Surachai Danwattananusorn, convicted under the lese majeste law, yesterday expressed gratitude to His Majesty the King, after being granted royal pardon.
“I am happy to receive royal kindness and graciousness. Without a royal pardon, I would have served another eight years in jail,” he said.
Surachai, a former communist insurgent and a red-shirt leader, also thanked the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the ruling Pheu Thai Party for “never abandoning” those convicted of lese majeste offences. He said that he would later return to his home province of Nakhon Si Thammarat to be treated for a number of illnesses.
Surachai, 72, was released from Bangkok Remand Prison yesterday evening. He left the prison shortly after 5pm and was met by his wife Pranee, red-shirt leader Weng Tojirakarn and a number of red-shirt supporters, who presented him with red roses.
Surachai, who was sentenced to 12 years and six months on five counts of lese majeste, served 17 months of his term before his release.
Once a prominent communist insurgent and Red Siam leader, Surachai is one of the highest-profile prisoners to be tried for lese majeste offences. He was active as an insurgent in the 1970s and was imprisoned in the 1980s.
In February 2012, the then 71-year-old Surachai was sentenced to seven and a half years for defaming the monarchy at a 2010 red-shirt rally in Bangkok, while addressing his supporters. Now in poor health, Surachai was hospitalised in prison.