Thailand court sentences woman to 43 years for insulting monarchy
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Thailand court sentences woman to 43 years for insulting monarchy

The Bangkok Criminal Court on Tuesday sentenced a Thai woman to more than 43 years in prison for insulting the monarchy.

The woman, Anchan Preelert, is a former member of the Banpodj Network, a group accused by the Thai government of being an “anti-monarchy network” due to the content of their videos uploaded to Facebook and YouTube. Preelert was arrested in 2015 along with numerous other members of the Banpodj Network for violation of Thailand’s strict lèse-majesté laws.

Thailand has a history of charging individuals accused of insulting the monarchy under Section 112 of the Thailand Criminal Code, which is among the Thai laws governing offenses against the king and royal family. Section 112 states that “whoever defames, insults, or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.”

Each instance of an offense can be charged as a separate crime, and Preelert was charged with 29 separate violations of Section 112 for sharing clips on YouTube and Facebook critical of the Thai monarchy. These charges resulted in her facing a record-setting 87-year sentence before she halved it by pleading guilty.

Such extensive penalties for Section 112 violations have become more common within the past year. Following a coup in 2014, the new Thai government charged nearly two hundred individuals with Section 112 violations, including Preelert and other members of the Banpodj Network. A 2018 lull in Section 112 charges then ended after the 2020 emergence of a pro-democracy protest movement targeting Thailand’s new king, who has faced unprecedented criticism for royal excesses and his growing personal influence over Thai society.

Preelert now has the option to appeal her sentence before two higher courts. If she chooses to do so, an appeal is expected to be filed within 30 days.