YEREVAN, 3 April-2014(ITAR-TASS): Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan resigned on Thursday, April 3. The resignation…
Reuters, Bangkok: Thai police are investigating 12 new complaints of royal defamation found on social media
lodged since the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej last week, a sharp rise amid intensifying scrutiny of anything deemed offensive to the monarchy.
The death of the revered king last Thursday, who was 88, after seven decades on the throne has plunged the Southeast Asian country into mourning and heightened sensitivity about the monarchy.
King Bhumibol was seen as a stabilising figure in a country often racked by political turmoil.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has moved quickly to quash any uncertainty around the royal succession, saying Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn would ascend the throne after a period of mourning that he had requested.
Insulting the monarch, the regent or the heir, known by the French-language term “lese-majeste”, is a crime in Thailand that carries a jail sentence of up to 15 years for each case.
Police spokesman Kitsana Pattanacharoen said there had been 12 lese-majeste cases since last Thursday, with arrest warrants issued for eight suspects and four already in police custody.
“Their crime was posting messages or pictures which insulted the monarchy on social media,” he told Reuters.
There were 70 cases in the two-and-a-half years from a May 2014 coup up to last Thursday, said Weerawat Somnuek, a researcher at Thai legal monitoring group iLaw.
“Twelve cases in a week is a lot,” Weerawat told Reuters.
The stepped-up prosecutions come at a time of deep grief among Thais, who have for decades seen the late king as a unifying father figure.People are dressing in black around the country, and have been streaming to Bangkok’s gilded Grand Palace to pay their respects to the late king, who is lying there.
No date has been set for a royal cremation but it is expected to take place in about a year.