Thailand Jails Former Palace Aide for Royal Defamation


MARCH 04, 2017

Bangkok. A former Thai palace medical adviser was jailed for five and a half years for insulting the monarchy and other charges on Friday (03/03), a day after another disgraced aide to the new king was charged in a separate case.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn has made numerous changes in the palace since ascending the throne in December following the death of his father, with punishments for some of those who have fallen from grace.

Former Air Vice Marshal Chitpong Thongkum pleaded guilty to royal defamation and four other charges on Friday and was convicted by a military court, said Sutin Sappuang, chief of the police Crime Suppression Division.

Chitpong's sentence was halved from 11 years because of his guilty plea, Sutin told Reuters. He did not detail the specific charges.

Chitpong, who had served as a medical adviser to the king when he was crown prince, was fired last month and stripped of military ranks and royal decorations.

At the time, the government said his offences included claiming ties with the king for personal gain, disclosing the king's medical records, behaving in ways which the king did not trust and causing "severe damage" while on duty.

The country's strict lese-majeste law makes it a crime to defame, insult or threaten the king, queen, heir to the throne or regent. Each offence is punishable with a jail term of up to 15 years.

There has been a substantial rise in the number of lese-majeste prosecutions since the death of former King Bhumibol Adulyadej in October.

Another prominent former palace aide, Jumpol Manmai, who was dismissed for gross disciplinary misconduct on Tuesday, was charged on Thursday with unauthorized building on protected forest land. Jumpol did not face a lese majeste charge.