‘Pai’ and his 870 days behind bars

On 8 May, Viboon Boonpattararaksa posted in his Facebook page about his son, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, aka ‘Pai’ that “Good news!, Pai Dao Din is to be released on 10 May 2019. Please share his news as people keep asking me about his. Thank you.”

After being convicted and sentenced to two years and six months of imprisonment for violating the Penal Code’s Article 112, Pai has been incarcerated in jail since December 2017. He was supposed to do his time until 19 June 2019.

Toward the protracted incarceration 

Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, aka Pai’, has been held in custody since sharing news from the BBC Thai in the morning of 2 December 2016. Lt. Col Pithakphon Chusri reported the case against him accusing him of defaming the King and violating the Penal Code’s Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act. The arrest warrant was issued against him on the same day by the Khon Kaen Provincial Court.

Since then, we have witnessed irregularities in the justice process which symbolize the entrenched problems in Thailand’s criminal proceeding.

Such irregularities have brought unfairness to Pai. It has led to concern about the human rights violation in Thailand, particularly the use of the Penal Code’s Article 112 to restrict freedom of expression and to create a climate of fear in Thailand. It has led to a campaign to #FreePai during that time.

Pai and the ‘new phase’ of lese majeste prosecutions

The case against ‘Pai’ marked a new phase of the lese majeste prosecutions in the aftermath of the ascension to the throne of HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, King Rama X on 1 December 2016. After some lese majeste prosecutions in 2017, they have entirely been brought to a halt due to the change of policy later on. There have been no more lese majeste prosecutions, and several of such cases were subsequently dismissed in 2018.

The injustice against Pai does not end just at the two-year-and-six-month-imprisonment slapped against him. It has extended to his being denied a parole, even though he supposed to serve his term just for another 111 days.

Eventually, Pai will be discharged 41 days sooner than the actual time he was supposed to serve by the virtue of the Royal Amnesty Decree BE 2562 to mark the coronation of HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, King Rama X.

Still, there are at least eight other defendants convicted in lese majeste cases who remain behind bars pending the trials in the Lower Court (Military Court) including six in the Khon Kaen Correctional Institution For Drug Addicts and two in the Bangkok Remand Prison. They do not afford the amnesty this time as their cases have yet to reach the final verdicts. 

There are many other convicts (the exact number of which could not be determined) whose cases had reached the final verdicts, but due to the harsh sentences against them. They are included in this Royal Amnesty Decree, however, will not be released during this period. Still, they benefit from a reduction of the sentencing proportionately to which class of prisoners they belong. (For the updates about the latest lese majeste prisoners as of September 2018, please see She and he who remain incarcerated: At least nine defendants in the lese-majeste cases are denied bail, while fighting charges against them)