EU ‘Deeply Concerned’ About Thai Text Conviction

Posted November 29th, 2011 at 1:50 pm (UTC-5)
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The European Union says it is “deeply concerned” about the Thai court conviction and 20-year prison sentence meted out last week to a 61-year-old man accused of sending text messages that authorities say insulted the Thai monarchy.

The EU delegation to Thailand, in a statement, urged Thai authorities to “ensure the rule of law is applied in a non-discriminatory and proportional manner consistent with upholding basic human rights.”

The EU admonition comes less than a week after defendant Ampon Tangnoppakul was jailed for sending what prosecutors called four “inappropriate” text messages to the secretary for then-Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Details of the messages have not been made public, but authorities say they insulted the monarchy and upset the recipients. Ampon denied sending the texts, saying he did not possess the SIM card used to send the messages.

The case has sparked renewed calls for the Bangkok government to repeal its so-called lese majeste laws, which criminalize insults to the country's revered monarchy.

The Bangkok Post newspaper, in Tuesday's edition, said a well known Thai network of intellectuals and social activists is again urging the judiciary to refocus concerns for the principles of justice, humanity and basic human rights in such cases.

However, government minister Anudith Nakornthap, in an interview with the Associated Press, further sharpened the government's stance Tuesday, saying Facebook users who approve or share “insulting” commentary are also committing a crime.