Thailand top court sentences protest leader to 20 years
Thailand top court sentences protest leader to 20 years

[JURIST] Thailand’s Supreme Court [official website] on Tuesday affirmed [The Nation report] the 20-year prison sentence given to Sondhi Limthongkul in 2012. A former media magnate, Sondhi violated Securities and Exchange Commission [official website] regulations [text] when he fraudulently obtained a bank loan, worth approximately USD $400,000, in 1997. Meanwhile, as leader of the ultra-royalist Yellow Shirts movement [BBC backgrounder], Sondhi attempted to have political rival Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile], Thailand’s Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006, removed from office. Alongside two other members of his managing group, Sondhi was convicted of lying to shareholders and presenting fraudulent documentation about the health of his business.

Although Sondhi’s conviction is less contentious, Thailand has been home to significant human rights concerns for years, some of which stem from the nation’s court system. In particular, human rights groups worldwide have expressed growing concern over violations in Thailand since the military junta came to power in May 2014. Last month, Thailand passed [JURIST report] a new constitution by referendum vote. The constitution was drafted by a military-appointed counsel and is feared to be another step in entrenching military control of the nation. Thai military officials in July charged [JURIST report] three human rights defenders with criminal defamation and violations of the Computer Crimes Act because of a report they published detailing acts of torture in Thailand. In April Human Rights Watch urged [JURIST report] Thailand to stop harassing and charging human right lawyers for defending victims of the government’s abuses, and to revoke military police powers. In March the Pheu Thai Party filed a complaint [JURIST report] with the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights over the detention of one of its key figures, Watana Muangsook, accusing the government of serious human rights violations. In January UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on [JURIST report] the Thai government to fully investigate the whereabouts of at least 82 people listed as disappeared and criminalize forced disappearance through legislation.