Court sentences Narin to 3 years in prison for placing GuKult sticker on King Rama X portrait. Narin released on bail

On 4 March 2022 at 9.00 am, the Ratchada Criminal Court read the verdict in the case against Narin (last name withheld) who was charged with Section 112 of the Criminal Code. Narin was accused of placing a “GuKult” sticker on the King Rama X portrait in front of the Supreme Court during the 19 September 2020 protest at Sanamlaung.

The witness examination was held on 22 – 24 February and 1 March 2022, with 11 witnesses presented by the prosecutor. No witness of the defense was heard. Initially, the defense presented four witnesses — three academics to testify to the defendant’s lack of intention to insult the monarchy, and the defendant himself. However when the court ruled to cut academia witnesses of both parties, the defendant felt that the trial was held unfairly and refused to testify. Later, the court scheduled to read a verdict after only three days of witness examination, which is faster than the usual proceeding.

After Narin was temporarily released during an appeal phase. Credit: eggcatchese

At the courtroom 710, among 15 observers present were Narin’s older brother, and activists Panassaya “Rung” Sitthijirawattanakul and Benja Apan. The court did not allow the observers to document the verdict, nor did it allow observers to take notes during witness examination. It cited that the content might not be accurately documented, and observers should wait for a copy of the judgement from the officer.

At 09.10 am Kaisorn Chaiwong, presiding judge at the Criminal Court, read the summary judgment as follows: In this case, the prosecutor brought a police on duty at the 19 September 2020 protest, organized by the United Front of Thammasat at Thammasat University, Tha Prachan campus. Around 7 pm, a sticker is found placed across the eye of King Rama X portrait, located in front of gate 1 of the Supreme Court. The police inspected the CCTV cameras and found that the sticker was affixed by a person dressed in certain colors, a wide-brimmed hat and pink mask. Initially the police believed that the perpetrator was still in the protest area.

The following day, police on duty in the rally area found the defendant, whose appearance and dress matched the perpetrator, as he was waiting to cross the road at Khok Wua junction from the 14 October monument side to Tanao Road. The police then followed him. The defendant tried to escape and fell down. The police then showed up, offering help which the defendant refused. Then the defendant mentioned his nam to the police.

On the same day, at 1.00 pm, the defendant filed a complaint against the Chanasongkram Police Station, Bangkok, claiming that he was threatened by the police in the rally until he fell. The defendant cited the cause of the alleged harassment may be because of a sticker placed on King Rama X portrait in front of the Supreme Court. The police then asked the defendant to inspect CCTV while the defendant allegedly placed the sticker. The defendant then admitted that the person in the CCTV footage was the defendant himself. The police then printed out the CCTV footage and the defendant signed and admitted that he was the perpetrator in question.

The court found that the defendant’s action, by placing a sticker on King Rama X’s portrait, was to manifest that the (rally) group superior to the King, amounting to insult. Therefore the action was found guilty under Section 112 of the Penal Code. Even though it was not a direct act against the King, the action can be interpreted in the same way

Therefore, the court sentenced the defendant to three years’ imprisonment. The defendant’s complaint against the police at the Chanasongkram Police Station however helped reduce the punishment by one-third. The defendant is facing two years without suspension.

After reading the verdict, the court informed the defendant and his lawyer of the right to appeal within a period of one month. The court police then handcuffed Narin and took him into custody under the Criminal Court. At the same time, the lawyer filed a request for Narin’s bail, using the original surety of 100,000 baht from the Da Torpedo Fund.

After Narin was temporarily released during an appeal phase. Credit: eggcatchese

At 10.58 am, the Criminal Court granted Narin unconditional temporary release with the original security as bail. The order was signed by Mukmethin Klannurak

Then, at 11.05 am, Narin was released from the custody of the Criminal Court to about 20 – 30 supporters welcoming and encouraging him with the”GuKult” t-shirts.

The lawyer will proceed to submit an appeal against the decision of the Court of First Instance. As for Narin’s two remaining cases in relation to “GuKult”, there are currently under investigation. In one of the two cases, he was charged with Section 112 of the Criminal Code allegedly because he was said to be the Facebook administrator of the page”GuKult”. The public prosecutor scheduled a hearing on prosecution order on 28 March 2022. In another case, Narin was charged with section under the Computer Act. The public prosecutor has not yet issued any prosecution orders in this case.