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Thai MP get two years’ jail for insulting monarchy

BANGKOK (AFP) – A Thai court sentenced a lawmaker from the progressive Move Forward Party to two years in jail on Monday for insulting the monarchy.

Chonthicha Jaengraew was found guilty under Thailand’s strict lese-majeste laws over a speech she made during an anti-government protest in 2021.

MFP won the most seats in last year’s general election but was blocked from forming a government by conservative forces opposed to its pledge to reform the royal defamation laws, which shield King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his close family from criticism.

The court in Thanyaburi, north of Bangkok, reduced the sentence from three years because Chonthicha cooperated, her lawyer told AFP.

Move Forward Party’s Chonthicha Jangrew gives a Thai tradition of the “wai” greeting on her arrival at the Thanyaburi Provincial Court in Pathum Thani province, north of Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, May 27, 2024. PHOTO: AP

The court freed the MP on THB150,000 (USD4,000) bail pending an appeal, the lawyer added.

There has been an upsurge in charges under lese-majeste laws — known in Thailand as “112” after the relevant section of the criminal code — since youth-led pro-democracy street protests in 2020.

Another MFP lawmaker was jailed for six years in December for reposting messages on X, formerly Twitter, deemed to be insulting to the monarch.

Critics say the royal defamation laws are misused to stifle legitimate political debate.

Later this week, prosecutors are expected to decide whether to pursue a lese-majeste case against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra over comments he made in Seoul in 2015.