Thai court sentences woman to 43 years for insulting monarchy

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Jan. 19 (UPI) — A court in Thailand has sentenced a woman to 43 years in jail for insulting the king, or violating a draconian law that can punish offenders for remarks made against the monarchy.

A woman identified only by her given name, Anchan, initially was sentenced to 87 years in prison for sharing videos that were considered slanderous to the king. Her sentence was reduced to 43 years and six months after she pleaded guilty, or “confessed” during the trial, the Bangkok Post reported Tuesday.

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“I thought it was nothing. There were so many people who shared this content and listened to it,” Anchan said, according to The Guardian and local media. “So I didn’t really think this through and was too confident and not being careful enough to realize at the time that it wasn’t appropriate.”

Lese-majeste, or Section 112 of the Thai criminal code, is a law that has deterred critics of the monarchy in Thailand for decades. According to the Post, the longest prison sentence for a lese-majeste case was 70 years, imposed by a military court in the country in 2015. That sentence was also halved when the man pleaded guilty to posting messages and images on 10 occasions.

Each alleged violation brings anywhere from three to 15 years in prison for the defendant, according to The Guardian. After the 2014 military coup led by current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, Anchan posted dozens of videos on social media platforms like Facebook, reports said.

Last year, protesters risked facing royal defamation charges after demanding King Maha Vajiralongkorn relinquish control of royal assets estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars. On Jan. 1, Thai authorities made their 38th arrest of a pro-democracy activist under lese-majeste, according to Voice of America.

Thailand’s Crown Property Bureau, which is under the direct control of the King, manages the royal family’s assets that include real estate in Bangkok and shares of Siam Commercial Bank. The king owns a significant stake in the country’s oldest bank, according to reports.