Crime & Justice

Thai court acquits 5 protesters charged with blocking royal motorcade

Bangkok, Jun 28 (EFE).- A court in Thailand on Wednesday acquitted five protesters accused of threatening Thailand’s Queen Suthida when they briefly blocked her vehicle during anti-government protests in 2020.

The NGO Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said on Twitter that the five activists, including Aekachai Hongkangwan and Bunkueanun Paothong, were found not guilty of violating Section 110 of the Penal Code, which punishes violence or attempted violence against the queen with 16 to 20 years in prison.

The Criminal Court found that the activists did not threaten the royal motorcade and that the police had not taken the necessary measures to clear the route or inform the protesters, according to the NGO, which represented the defendants.

The incident occurred in October 2020 in Bangkok while student-led demonstrations calling for democratic change swept the country, including reform of the monarchy – previously a taboo topic for public debate – and the military.

Protesters slowed down the Queen’s vehicle, which was also carrying Prince Dipangkorn, the son of King Vajiralongkorn, while those gathered performed the three-finger salute from “The Hunger Games,” the pro-democracy symbol associated with the protests.

More than 240 protesters and students, according to TLHR data, have been charged with the draconian lèse-majesté, or Article 112 of the Penal Code, which prescribes for prison sentences of between 3 and 15 years for anyone who defames, insults or threatens the king, queen or crown prince.

However, the protesters involved in the incident with the queen’s motorcade were charged with violating Article 110, which in the most serious cases can carry the death penalty.

The party that won May’s elections, Move Forward, has promised to reform the lèse-majesté law to lower the penalties if it succeeds in forming a coalition government in the coming weeks.

Its biggest obstacle to achieving that are the 250 pro-monarchy, conservative senators who were handpicked by the former military junta who will also elect the prime minister along with the 500 deputies of the lower house. EFE


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