Author guilty of Thai king insult

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Monday, January 19, 2009
11:09 Mecca time, 08:09 GMT

Nicolaides said the novel was his take on political and social life in contemporary Thailand [Reuters]

 

A court in Thailand has sentenced an Australian author to three years in jail after finding him guilty of insulting the country’s royal family.

Appearing in a Bangkok court house on Monday, Harry Nicolaides, had pleaded guilty to the charges, related to a 2005 novel he authored which reportedly sold just seven copies.

He was convicted under Thailand’s strict lese majeste laws, designed to protect the royal family but which activists say are outdated and stifle free speech.

Passing the court’s verdict, the judge initially sentenced Nicolaides to six years in jail, but reduced the sentence to three years because of his guilty plea.

Speaking in court earlier, Nicolaides, who was shackled at the ankles and wore a prison uniform, said he had endured “unspeakable suffering” since his arrest five months ago and that the case had taken a toll on his health and family.

“I would like to apologise,” he said, breaking down in tears. “This can’t be real. It feels like a bad dream.”

He said he had “unqualified respect for the king of Thailand” and had not intended to insult him.

The case comes as Thai authorities step up prosecutions under the country’s controversial laws on lese majeste or insulting the monarchy, which mandates a severe sentence for “whoever defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir to the throne or the regent”.

He had faced a jail term of up to 15 years.

Arrest

“I would like to apologise. This can’t be real. It feels like a bad dream”

Harry Nicolaides

Nicolaides, who lived in Thailand from 2003-2005 and taught in the northern city of Chiang Rai, was arrested in August at Bangkok’s international airport as he was about to board a flight home to Melbourne.

The author was unaware of a warrant issued in March for his arrest in connection with his novel, Verisimilitude, rights group Reporters Without Borders said.

The group had urged the Thai authorities to drop the charges against him and to release him.

Nicolaides has described his book as a commentary on political and social life of contemporary Thailand, saying it was “never intended to threaten or defame the royal family”.

Laws ‘outdated’

Critics say the laws against insulting Thailand’s royal family are outdated [AFP]

Several academics, authors and journalists are also currently facing similar charges under the lese majeste laws.

Free speech activists have condemned the laws as outdated, saying it has no place in a democracy.

Sulak Sivaraksa, a Bangkok-based social activist, said many people were critical of the strict monarchy laws in private but did not have the courage to speak up openly about changing it.
 
“The lese majeste laws have mostly been used by politicians to get rid of or to silence the opposition,” he told Al Jazeera, adding that even the king had a few years ago said that the law was harmful to him and detrimental to the monarchy.

“I think we should be brave to do something to have this law changed,” Sulak said.

“Unfortunately in this country the people generally have no moral courage.”

Giles Ungpakorn, a Thai academic who is himself facing charges of lese majeste, said the laws undermined democratic rights to free speech.

“This law is not about protecting the monarchy, it’s about certain groups trying to protect their privilege and their power,” he told Al Jazeera.

“Thailand is supposed to be a democracy. And in a democracy you’re supposed to be entitled to free speech.”

The severity of the lese majeste laws was highlighted last year when a Swiss man, apparently acting in a drunken frenzy, was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years for defacing images of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-serving monarch.

He was pardoned by the king after serving about a month in jail.

Last week Thailand’s new prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, told reporters the monarchy had to be protected because it has “immense benefits to the country as a stabilising force”, adding that his government would try to ensure the law is not abused.

 

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Thailand sentences writer for insults
International Herald Tribune, France – By Seth Mydans and Mark McDonald BANGKOK: An Australian writer was sentenced to three years in prison Monday for insulting the Thai monarchy in a
Thailand jails Australian for insulting monarchy
Telegraph.co.uk, United Kingdom – An Australian writer has been sentenced to three years in jail in Thailand for insulting the monarchy. By Thomas Bell in Bangkok Harry Nicolaides, 41,
Melbourne writer jailed for insulting Thai royals
The Age, Australia – Harry Nicolaides waits in a Thai cell for his trial on charges of maligning Thailand’s king. He was later found guilty and sentenced to three years in
Jailed For Insulting Thai Prince
Sky News, UK – An Australian man has been jailed for three years for insulting a Thai monarch in a novel that sold just seven copies. Harry Nicolaides was handed the
Australian writer sentenced for insulting Thai king
CBC.ca, Canada – An Australian writer has been sentenced to three years in prison for insulting Thailand’s royal family in a novel he wrote. Bangkok’s Criminal Court handed
Australian author jailed for insulting Thai king
Radio Netherlands, Netherlands – In Thailand, an Australian author has been sentenced to prison for three years for lese majesty. A Bangkok judge has ruled that Harry Nicolaides insulted
Thai court sentences Australian author to three years in jail on
Xinhua, China – BANGKOK, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) — A Bangkok criminal court on Monday sentenced an Australian author to three years in jail for his remarks in a novel found
Aussie Jailed For Insulting Thai Royal
Bernama, Malaysia – By D. Arul Rajoo BANGKOK, Jan 19 (Bernama) — An Australian writer, who had taught English at a university in the northern city of Chiang Mai,
Australian convicted for insulting Thai monarchy
eTaiwan News, Taiwan – AP A Thai court has convicted an Australian writer of insulting Thailand’s royal family in his novel and ordered him to serve a three-year prison term.
Aussie jailed for insulting King
NEWS.com.au, Australia – By staff writers AUSTRALIAN author Harry Nicolaides has been sentenced to three years in a Thai jail for insulting the nation’s monarch in a novel.
Australian jailed for three years for insulting Thai king
AFP – BANGKOK (AFP) — A Thai court on Monday sentenced an Australian writer to three years in jail after finding him guilty of insulting Thailand’s revered royal
Writer Harry Nicolaides jailed for insulting Thai king
Times Online, UK – An Australian writer has been sentenced to three years in a Thai jail after pleading guilty to lese-majeste charges for insulting the country’s King.
Author charged over Thailand insult
Aljazeera.net, Qatar – An Australian author has pleaded guilty to charges of insulting the Thai royal family in a novel that reportedly sold only seven copies.
Australian pleads guilty in Thai royal insult case
Reuters India, India – BANGKOK (Reuters) – An Australian writer pleaded guilty to defaming Thailand’s crown prince on Monday and faces up to 15 years in jail when he is sentenced
Man who insulted Thai monarch jailed for 3yrs
ABC Online, Australia – By South East Asia correspondent Karen Percy An Australian man has been sentenced to three years jail in Bangkok after pleading guilty to insulting the Thai
Australian faces jail for insulting Thai monarchy
The Associated Press – BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — An Australian writer pleaded guilty Monday to criminal charges of insulting Thailand’s royal family in his 2005 novel,
Aust man to plead guilty in Thai lese-majesty trial
ABC Online, Australia – By South East Asia correspondent Karen Percy An Australian man facing court in Bangkok on charges of insulting Thailand’s monarchy has told reporters
Australian man to face Thai court over royal insult claims
Radio Australia, Australia – An Australian man, Harry Nicolaides, is due to appear in a Bangkok court today charged with insulting Thailand’s royal family. Mr Nicolaides published a
Australian to face court over Thai royal insult
ABC Online, Australia – By South East Asia correspondent Karen Percy An Australian charged with insulting the Thai monarchy will appear in a Bangkok court today.
Jail for insulting Thai royals
Daily Telegraph, Australia – AN Australian writer was sentenced to three years jail yesterday for insulting Thailand’s revered royal family in a novel that sold just 10 copies.
Court gives Australian man 3 year lesse majeste jail term
Thai News Agency MCOT, Thailand – BANGKOK, Jan 19 (TNA) – A Thai court on Monday handed down a three-year prison term to an Australian writer charged with lese majeste in his 2005 novel.
Australian sentenced to 3 years in jail
Phuket Gazette, Thailand – Bangkok (The Nation): A Thai court sentenced an Australian author to three years imprisonment on a lêse majesté charge this afternoon.
Aussie author gets jail term for ‘insulting’ Thai monarchy
RTT News, NY – (RTTNews) – An Australian author, who pleaded guilty to insulting the Thai monarchy, has been sentenced to three years in jail.
Australian author gets 3-year jail term in Thailand over lese
Southeast Asian Press Alliance, Thailand – A Thai court sentenced an Australian author to three years’ imprisonment for insulting a member of the royal family, media reports said.
Australian Jailed for Three Years in Thailand for Insults to King
ShortNews.com, Germany – Australian author Harry Nicolaides, 41, has been sentenced to three years in a Thai prison after a book he wrote was deemed to insult the Thai king.
Political repression in Thailand Pt1
Real News Network, NY – Giles Ji Ungpakorn describes his recent summons for Lese Majeste charges in Thailand for insulting the King of Thailand in his book ” A Coup for the Rich.
Aussie faces jail for insulting Thai monarch
Special Broadcasting Service, Australia –
Thailand: Petition — Defend freedom of speech. Stop the use of
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, Australia – We, the undersigned, oppose the use of lese majeste in Thailand in order to prevent freedom of speech and academic freedom. We demand that the government
Thailand: Activist arrested for ‘insulting’ monarch
Green Left Weekly, Australia – Jan 17, 2009
Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a political science professor at Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University and a well-known socialist activist, has been ordered to appear at
Australian teacher jailed for three years after insulting Thai king
guardian.co.uk, UK –A court in Thailand today sentenced an Australian man to three years in prison for insulting the country’s revered monarchy, in one of the few conviction of
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Australian sentenced for insulting Thai monarchy
The Associated Press – BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — An Australian writer was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for insulting Thailand’s royal family in his novel,
Melbourne man jailed in Thailand
NEWS.com.au, Australia – A MELBOURNE writer was sentenced to three years in jail by a Thai court after he pleaded guilty to insulting Thailand’s revered royal family in a novel,
Writer jailed for Thai ‘insult’
BBC News, UK –Australian writer Harry Nicolaides has been sentenced to three years in a Thai jail for insulting the monarchy. Nicolaides wrote a novel four years ago,
Author Harry Nicolaides to plead guilty to Thai royal insult
The Australian, Australia – Article from: Australian AP AN Australian writer who says he’s endured “unspeakable suffering” in a Thai jail will plead guilty to criminal charges of
Australian jailed for three years for insulting Thai royals
AFP – BANGKOK (AFP) — A Thai court on Monday jailed an Australian writer for three years for insulting the royal family in a novel, the latest case to highlight
Melbourne author Harry Nicolaides to plead in Thai court
Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia – A MELBOURNE author’s health is deteriorating while he waits in a Bangkok jail to face trial for criticising the Thai monarchy, his family says.
Writer sentenced for ‘Thai insult’
Channel 4 News, UK – An Australian writer has been jailed for three years after being found guilty of insulting the Thai monarchy. Harry Nicolaides, a 41-year-old who worked as
Australian gets three years in prison for insulting Thai monarchy
TREND Information, Azerbaijan – A Bangkok court on Monday sentenced an Australian author to three years in jail for allegedly insulting the Thai monarchy in his novel Verisimilitude
Three years’ jail for Australian on Thai lese majeste charge
Australia Network News, Australia – Judges in Thailand have sentenced an Australian man to three years in jail for insulting the Thai monarchy. Harry Nicolaides, 41, had pleaded guilty to
Aussie jailed for insulting Thai king
LIVENEWS.com.au, Australia – An Australian writer who says he’s endured “unspeakable suffering” in a Thai prison has been jailed for three years after pleading guilty to criminal
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  1. Thailand should be ASHAMED that these laws are still enforced.

    I left Thailand recently after several years of teaching there as it disintegrates into just another third world country. You couldn’t PAY me to teach in Thailand again. And if you’re thinking of teaching there, go to Japan, Korea or Malaysia instead. More money, less antiquated laws, and less danger you might be arrested if you simply state your opinion.

    I also call on all tourists to stay away from Thailand to protest this disgusting arrest and conviction of an Australian writer.

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