Thai MP jailed for six years on royal insult charges

A Thai female MP has been sentenced to six years in jail under the country’s harsh lese-majeste laws and may lose her seat if denied bail.

Rukchanok “Ice” Srinork was accused of posting tweets critical of the monarchy. She pleaded not guilty.

Ice’s Move Forward party, which won this year’s election, had urged reform of the lese-majeste laws.

But the unelected senate used this as the main reason for blocking Move Forward’s attempt to form a government.

Opposition to the lese-majeste laws was one of the issues which sparked mass protests in 2020, lasting several months. According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, around 260 charges have been filed under the lese-majeste law since 2020. Some 2,000 people have been prosecuted under a variety of laws for their involvement in the protests.

Just earlier this week, a 26 year-old man was given a prison sentence just for shouting at a passing royal motorcade about a burden imposed on society. He has been released on bail.

And on Wednesday, Ice was found guilty of insulting the monarch by a Bangkok court for two posts made before she joined the Move Forward party – in the first, she criticised the country’s handling of the pandemic, and the second was a repost of a tweet that was said to be critical of the monarchy.

Hers was perhaps the most dramatic of many shock victories by the young Move Forward candidates in the May general election – she won her seat in Bang Bon, a constituency near Bangkok which had been the fiefdom of one of Thailand’s most powerful political clans for decades, after a no-frills campaign largely on a bicycle.

She was given the nickname of “giant-killer” by a Thai media outlet, for taking the seat from a political heavyweight.

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Comfort Samuel

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