A Thai court on Wednesday convicted an online editor for hosting posts critical of the revered monarchy on her website, but suspended her jail sentence amid demands to reform the lese majeste law.
Chiranuch Premchaiporn, who had faced a possible 20-year sentence, was found guilty of failing to speedily delete comments by other people deemed insulting to the royal family from her popular news website, Prachatai.
Judge Kampol Rungrat sentenced Chiranuch to eight months in jail, but suspended the jail term for a year, saying that she had cooperated with the court in Bangkok and had “never violated the law herself”.
Analysts said the 44-year-old webmaster’s suspended term is unlikely to herald a wider loosening of the kingdom’s strict royal defamation laws, which critics decry as an assault on free speech, including online commentary.
The court fined Chiranuch 20,000 baht ($630).
She still faces further charges — at a date to be set — of breaching a different section of the Thai criminal code outlawing insults to the royal family and allows for a maximum 15-year sentence for every conviction.
The royal family is a highly sensitive topic in politically turbulent Thailand. The 84-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who is revered as a demi-god by many Thais, has been hospitalised since September 2009.
Thank GOD we live in America!