A Thai woman has been sentenced to 43.5 years in jail for sharing audio clips criticizing the Thai royal family, something that is prohibited in Thailand. The woman had shared the audio on her Facebook and YouTube. It is the highest penalty ever for lese majesty in Thailand, reports the news agency Reuters Tuesday.
The woman, Anchan Preelert, who previously worked as a civil servant, posted the audio clips between 2014 and 2015. The 65-year-old said in her defense that she only shared the audio and did not comment on it. She was unaware that she was doing anything wrong.
Preelert was initially sentenced to 87 years in prison, but because she acknowledged having placed the fragments, her sentence was halved. It concerned a total of 29 audio fragments. She can still appeal.
The woman was prosecuted under the strict lèse-majesté law, which makes it punishable to criticize the Thai royal family. Thailand has the highest penalties for lese majesty worldwide, and Thai face a 15-year prison sentence for each offense.
In addition to Preelert, another thirteen people will soon be prosecuted under the lèse-majesté for sharing the podcasts in which the royal family is being ridiculed. The author of the podcast was previously sentenced to two years in prison and has now been released, writes BBC.
Protesters aimed arrows at King last year
For the past three years, no one in Thailand has been prosecuted for lese majesty, until major anti-government protests broke out late last year. The royal family was also beaten. According to experts, this criticism was very special, because of the aforementioned high penalties. Since November, more than 40 people have been charged with lese majesty.
Analysts say the high penalty is a signal from the authorities to the protesters. The high penalties for lese majesty have been under fire for some time, including internationally. Amnesty Tuesday condemned the high sentence Preelert received.
The current King Rama X is a lot less popular than his father, who passed away in 2016. His exorbitant lifestyle and absence during the corona crisis in particular are not well received by the Thai.