Thailand’s king pardons Swiss man

BBC News

Thailand’s king has pardoned a Swiss man who was sentenced to 10 years in jail for defacing images of him.

Oliver Jufer was sentenced last month, after he admitted
spray-painting images of the revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej in the
city of Chiang Mai.

It was thought to be the first time a foreigner had been jailed under Thailand’s strict lese majeste laws.

Now he has received a royal pardon, Mr Jufer is expected to be deported as soon as possible, police said.

The king is widely loved in Thailand and often treated as a virtual god.

Analysts say that this act of compassion against a now contrite foreigner will only enhance his image further.

CNN.com

POSTED: 1:49 a.m. EDT, April 12, 2007

vert.jufer.ap.jpg
Oliver Rudolf Jufer

Thai king pardons Swiss man

POSTED: 0549 GMT (1349 HKT), April 12, 2007

var clickExpire = “05/12/2007”;

BANGKOK, Thailand
(AP) — The Thai king has pardoned a Swiss man who was given a 10-year
sentence for spray-painting over images of the revered monarch, but the
longtime Thailand resident has been ordered to leave the country,
police said Thursday.

Oliver Rudolf Jufer, who last month became
the first foreigner convicted in at least a decade under strict Thai
laws protecting the monarchy, was expected to be deported back to
Switzerland later in the day, said police Col. Sangob Sanudon, the
chief of Chiang Mai’s immigration office.

Police and prison
officials in the northern city of Chiang Mai confirmed Jufer had been
transferred Wednesday to a police station in Chiang Mai ahead of his
deportation. They said he was expected to fly to Bangkok and then onto
Switzerland.

“The king in his kindness has granted him a pardon
and he has been transferred from prison and is in the process of being
deported from the country,” Chiang Mai police Col. Prachuab Wongsuk
told The Associated Press.

A spokesman for the Swiss Embassy could not be immediately reached for comment.

Jufer
was caught by surveillance cameras on December 5 spray-painting black
paint over five outdoor posters of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Chiang
Mai, where he lived.

Bhumibol, who is greatly loved by Thais and
regarded by some as semi-divine, is protected from reproach by strict
laws that forbid any criticism of the monarchy.

Jufer, who lived
in Thailand for 10 years, pleaded guilty in March to five counts of
lese majeste, or insulting the monarchy. He had faced a maximum of 75
years in prison.

According to court testimony, Jufer had been out
drinking with a friend and drove his motorcycle home to pick up a can
of spray-paint, which he had bought to paint his dog house. He drove up
to a municipal office where a large poster of the king was hung
outside, and climbed a ladder to spray paint over the image. He then
defaced four other posters near his home, according to the testimony.

The vandalism coincided with Bhumibol’s 79th birthday, which was celebrated across Thailand with fireworks and prayers.

Millions
of portraits of the king, who is the world’s longest serving monarch,
were hung late last year around the country to honor his birthday. Many
Thais wear bright yellow shirts every Monday, the color that in
Buddhist tradition represents the day of the week on which Bhumibol was
born.

His case cast a rare spotlight on Thailand’s strict lese
majeste laws, which have remained virtually unchanged since the
creation of the country’s first criminal code in 1908, despite the
overthrow of an absolute monarchy in 1932.

Main Page


April 12, 2007 – 8:24 AM

Thai monarch pardons imprisoned Swiss

King Bhumibol is deeply respected in Thailand

King Bhumibol is deeply respected in Thailand (Keystone)

 

King Bhumibol has pardoned a Swiss man who was given a ten-year prison sentence for spraying paint on images of the monarch.

The
long-time Thailand resident has been ordered to leave the country. The
Swiss embassy in the capital Bangkok has confirmed the pardon, which
coincides with the Thai new year.

 

The 57-year-old man last month became the first foreigner in at
least a decade convicted under strict Thai laws protecting the monarchy.

Police
and prison officials in the northern city of Chiang Mai confirmed the
man had been transferred on Wednesday to a police station in the city
prior to deportation.

“The king in his kindness has granted him
a pardon and he has been transferred from prison and is in the process
of being deported from the country,” Chiang Mai police Colonel Prachuab
Wongsuk told The Associated Press news agency.

The man was
caught by surveillance cameras in early December spraying black paint
on five outdoor posters of King Bhumibol in Chiang Mai, where he lived.

 

Strict laws

 

Bhumibol,
who is greatly loved by Thais and regarded by some as semi-divine, is
protected from reproach by strict laws that forbid any criticism of the
monarchy.

The Swiss, who had lived in Thailand for ten years,
pleaded guilty in March to five counts of lèse majesté, or insulting
the monarchy. He had faced a maximum of 75 years in prison.

According
to court testimony, the Swiss had been out drinking with a friend and
drove his motorcycle home to pick up a can of spray-paint, which he had
bought to paint his dog house.

He drove up to a municipal office
where a large poster of the king was hung outside, and climbed a ladder
to spray paint over the image. He then defaced four other posters near
his home.

The vandalism coincided with Bhumibol’s 79th birthday, which was celebrated across Thailand with fireworks and prayers.

Millions
of portraits of the king, who is the world’s longest-serving monarch,
were hung around the country late last year to honour his birthday.

The
case of the Swiss cast a rare spotlight on Thailand’s strict lèse
majesté laws, which have remained virtually unchanged since the
creation of the country’s first criminal code in 1908, despite the
overthrow of an absolute monarchy in 1932.

swissinfo with agencies

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2 Responses

  1. […] biggest city of Chiang Mai.  He got 10 years.  I have sympathy for his punishment, as did the King, who pardoned him. I have no sympathy for his useless and foolish act.  Why would you mess with […]

  2. […] biggest city of Chiang Mai.  He got 10 years.  I have sympathy for his punishment, as did the King, who pardoned him. Yet, I have no sympathy for his useless and foolish act.  When I read about it […]

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