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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Man Charged for Vandalizing Sacred Wat Phra Kaew Temple in Thailand

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A 24-year-old man from Khon Kaen was arrested by Thai police on 28 March after being caught spray-painting an anti-112 message on the wall of Wat Phra Kaew temple in Bangkok.

Section 112, also known as the lese-majeste law in Thailand criminalizes insults or defamation against the Thai monarchy. The law imposes severe punishment for those convicted, including imprisonment of up to 15 years per offense.

The man, identified as Suttawee Soikham, was charged with violating the Cleanliness Act and violating Section 32 of the Ancient Monuments Act. He faces up to one month in prison and/or a fine of THB 10,000 for his first offense and up to seven years in prison and/or a fine of THB 700,000 (USD 20,438) on the second charge.

Suttawee was taken to court and was released on THB 50,000 (USD 1,459) bail. A 15-year-old girl known as “Yok” was also arrested at the scene, and police said she was wanted for a lese-majeste charge in connection with a pro-democracy demonstration in October 2020.

Police Colonel Naphatphong Kositsuriyamanee said that patrols and guards around the temple’s grounds have increased to prevent similar incidents. Army Chief General Naronpan Jittkaewtae commented that while he could not control people’s thoughts, laws, including those relating to ancient monuments, must be respected.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), at least 1,895 people in 1,180 cases have been charged and/or prosecuted for their political participation and expression since July 18, 2020, with at least 253 charged under the lese-majeste law.

On 7 March, a Thai man was sentenced to two years in prison for selling calendars with satirical cartoons of yellow ducks that a court said mocked the country’s monarch.

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