A Thai man has been sentenced to 35 years in jail for Facebook posts he made that insulted the royal family, in the country’s harshest sentence yet under its strict lèse-majesté laws.
Under these laws, Thailand forbid any criticism of the royal family.
On Friday, a Bangkok military court convicted the 34-year-old of lèse-majesté for posting photos and videos of the Thai royal family on Facebook.
Harshest sentence yet
“This is the longest sentence for Article 112 verdicts ever recorded,” iLaw said.
Under Article 112 of Thailand’s criminal code, those convicted of insulting the king, queen, heir or regent can face up to 15 years in jail for each count of the offence.
The man, who has been identified only by his first name, Wichai, in order to protect his family, was said to have been using the Facebook account of a former friend in an attempt to slander him, according to iLaw.
Wichai was initially given a whopping 70-year sentence, comprised of ten counts, and seven years for each.
He later had his term reduced in half because he confessed, according to an expert from iLaw.
According to his lawyer, he will not appeal against the verdict.
Critics have long accused the government of using draconian lèse-majesté laws as a tool for suppressing dissidents.
In 2015, a Thai man was sentenced to 30 years in jail for posting messages and pictures that insulted the monarchy on Facebook.
Pongsak Sriboonpeng’s sentence was said then to have been the heaviest-known sentence so far for a lèse-majesté case.
“Its broken the record,” his lawyer Sasinan Thamnithinan had said then.
Earlier this year, Facebook also started blocking several posts in Thailand, with a post made by a foreign journalist unable to be viewed when accessed from a Thai IP address.