Posting rumors about the junta’s leader isn’t sedition but normal defamation, fall under civilian court jurisdiction

On 17 May 2016, the Bangkok Military Court disposed the case of Mrs. Rinda who was charged for allegedly posting a rumor about Gen. Prayuth’s money transaction on her Facebook after the Criminal Court ruled that the offence did not constitute the elements of sedition under Article 116 of the Criminal Code, but Article 328 of defamation by means of publication. Thus, the case is under the jurisdiction of Criminal Court, a civilian court.

At 09.45, the military adjudicator read an order of the jurisdiction of the courts No. 2/2016, dated 30 March 2016. The Bangkok Military Court has previously submitted the opinion about the jurisdiction between courts, dated 29 February 2016, and other relating document to the Justice Court for the Criminal Court to proceed as indicated in Article 10 of the Act on the Adjudication of the Jurisdiction between Courts 1999. The main point of the adjudication was:

 

“According to the Bangkok Military prosecutor’s charge, the alleged message that the defendant posted on Facebook.com by the account of “Rinda Ponsiripithak” did not appear to raise the unrest and disaffection amongst the people in a manner likely to cause disturbance in the country as indicated in Article 116 (2) of the Criminal Code which is an offence against security of the kingdom. It appeared to be a defamation to the other person before a third person by means of publication under Article 328 of the Criminal Code.”

 

According to the Criminal Court, the offence of defamation by means of publication is not included in the Announcement of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) No. 37/2014 prescribing certain offences to be tried in military courts. Therefore, in this case, the other connected offences according to the Announcement of the NCPO No. 38/2014, including an offence of alarming the public by maliciously circulating false reports under Article 384 of the Criminal Code and an offence under Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act 2007 shall not be prosecuted in military courts.

For this reason, the Criminal Court made an opinion that the case is under the jurisdiction of the Justice Court. As both Bangkok Military Court and Criminal Court concurred, the opinion is deemed final according to the Act on the Adjudication of the Jurisdiction between Courts 1999. The opinion was submitted to the Military Court to proceed as indicated in Article 10 of the Act on Adjudication for Power and Duty of Courts 2009. The Bangkok Military Court then disposed the case from the system. Therefore, the case against Mrs. Rinda in the Military Court was terminated.

Mrs. Rinda was arrested by soldiers from her residence in Pathum Thani province and detained at the 11th Infantry Regiment King’ Bodyguard on 8 July 2015. The Bangkok Military Court approved the inquiry official’s request for remand her during the pre-trial stage. The defence lawyers filed a request for her temporary release with 100,000 Baht of bail surety, but the Court declined, claiming that the offence was related to national security even though the inquiry official did not object the bail request. Mrs. Rinda was detained at the Central Women Prison in Bangkok for 3 days. The lawyer submitted the second bail request on 13 July 2015. This round, the Court approved the request, and Rinda was released.

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