Musician-activist sentenced to six years for lèse majesté over Facebook posts

Thailand’s Criminal Court sentenced a musician who is also a member of the pro-democracy group to six years in prison today (Monday) after finding him guilty of lèse majesté over three Facebook posts he made in 2016.

He was granted bail on 300,000 baht surety by the court under the condition he does not travel outside Thailand.

37-year-old Parinya Cheewinkulpathom, aka “Port Fai Yen”, a member of the Fai Yen band, was accused of posting messages deemed critical of and defamatory to the monarchy. One of the posts referred to Thailand’s coups when he posted the news about the 2016 Turkish coup d’état attempt.

Parinya was arrested by police from the Technology Crime Suppression Division on March 5th last year at his house in Bangkok, after the Bangkok Military Court issued a warrant. His cell phone and a laptop were also seized.

Parinya denied all the charges against him during the investigation and trial.

The court found him guilty on three counts of lèse majesté and imposed a three-year term on each count, but commuted the sentence to six years for his useful testimony.

According to the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) in their reports in June this year, over 200 individuals, including 16 minors, have been charged with defaming the monarchy, or on lèse majesté charges, over the past 18 months.

FIDH Secretary-General Adilur Rahman Khan said that, at the current pace of prosecutions and given the traditionally high conviction rates, Thailand may soon become one of the countries with the highest number of political prisoners in the region.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service