A Thailand court Friday sentenced a 33-year-old man named Narin Kulpongsathorn to two years in prison for insulting the monarchy by placing a sticker on a portrait of the king. This is the first sentencing under the country’s lèse-majesté laws in more than a year.
The court found Kulpongsathorn guilty of putting a sticker bearing the logo of an anti-establishment political satire Facebook page, “GuKult,” on a portrait of King Maha Vajiralongkorn outside the Supreme Court of Thailand in Bangkok. The sticker was allegedly put on the portrait on September 19, 2020, which is the anniversary of the military coup that overthrew former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006.
Under Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, 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.” The court held that by putting a “GuKult” sticker on the King’s portrait, Narin was insinuating that “the individual is greater than the king.” It added that even though the act was not directly committed against the king, it was “insulting” and “defamatory.”
Narin’s lawyer, Kittisak Kongthong, stated that the case had been accelerated. The court ordered that the testimonies of academics and the plaintiff would not be taken. The court had completed all the witness examinations within a span of three days before the date of the verdict.
While Narin was initially sentenced to three years of imprisonment, his sentence was reduced to two years in light of his co-operative testimony. The court granted him bail with a bond of 100,000 baht ($3,000), in order to allow him to appeal his conviction.