Thai king pardons, points amnesty to tens of hundreds in jail | Thailand

At least 30,000 are to be pardoned and 200,000 others are to receive a shorter prison sentence as the country celebrates the birthday of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Saturday.

At least 30,000 prisoners in Thailand have been pardoned and 200,000 others are sentenced to imprisonment under a royal decree on the eve of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s birthday.

The Royal Gazette announced on Friday that the current King Maha Vajiralongkorn was issuing pardons and amnesties nationwide to mark his father’s date of birth on Saturday.

According to the Bangkok Post, journalist Sorrayuth Suthassanachinda, red-shirt leader Nattawut Saikuar and former Trade Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom are among those whose sentences are being reduced.

Sorrayuth was sentenced to eight years in prison earlier this year after a staff member reportedly failed to disclose excess television advertising income during his news show in the early 2000s.

Meanwhile, Nattawut has been jailed for his political activities in support of former Prime Minister Thaksin and his sister Yingluck Shinawatra.

However, after his expected release before the end of the year, Nattawut may still be returned to prison on other charges against him.

Boonsong, a former trade minister, was awarded 48 years for his involvement in the alleged rice trade anomaly during Yingluck’s tenure.

According to the Post, the Corrections Department currently has 247,557 convicts who qualify for a reduction in sentences from a total of 344,161 inmates.

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida welcomed the royalists to the Grand Palace in Bangkok last November [File: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters]Ever since King Maha Vajiralongkorn ascended the throne in Thailand, he has faced an unprecedented challenge to his rule. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators called for a reform of the monarchy and gave up control of the royal property.

After a series of protests, including the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, police have called on activist leaders to bring charges of insulting the monarchy.

It was the first time in more than two years that such charges have been brought under the so-called “Read Majeste” law, which covers insults against the royal family – a move seen as a warning to anti-government protesters.

Thailand has one of the strictest royal defamation laws in the world. It is routinely interpreted to include any criticism of the monarchy – including content posted or shared on social media.

Under Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, anyone convicted of defamation, insult or threat to the king, queen or heir faces between three and 15 years in prison on each count.

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