The mechanics of lèse majesté in Thailand are an ongoing interest of many New Mandala readers. It was – I probably need not remind you – only last week that Olivier Jufer’s trial for vandalising portraits of the King drew global media to the Chiang Mai provincial court.
Thai police have recommended ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra be charged with three counts of lese majeste which could put him him in jail for 45 years, police chief Sereepisut Taemeeyaves said today.
The recommendation to public prosecutors was under consideration, he told a news conference marking six months since Mr Thaksin was ousted in a bloodless coup.
“The prosecutors want us to provide them more evidence on some of the cases before they decide whether to charge Thaksin in court,” Mr Sereepisut said.
The three potential charges of offending revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej stemmed from remarks to a group of taxi drivers, his weekly national radio address, and his supporters waving Thai flags saying “Long Live His Majesty”.
Mr Sereepisut and Attorney-General Patchara Utithamdamrong declined to give more details, citing the sensitivity of cases involving the world’s longest reigning monarch who has exalted status in Thailand.
Law experts say a major problem is that the law is vague and almost anyone can level an accusation of lese majeste, thereby triggering a police investigation, allowing political opponents to accuse each other of offending the monarch.
Last year, Mr Thaksin and his enemies hurled scores of lese majeste accusations at each other. Mr Thaksin’s alleged disrespect for the monarchy was one of the reasons for the coup.