A man accused of spray painting messages opposed to the lese majeste law at the seat of royal power was granted bail on the condition he not repeat what he did.
The 25-year-old artist identified only as Bang-ern was granted bail yesterday, one day after he was tackled by police while spraying slogans on a wall of the Grand Palace. He was charged with two crimes including damaging a historical site, which could land him up to seven years in prison.
Bang-ern was freed on a bond of THB50,000 (US$1,450) but told by the Criminal Court he must not do a similar crime in the future.
He has not been charged with royal defamation, the very law he was criticizing, according to legal rights advocacy group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.
In footage of the incident, police rushed to tackle a man using black spray paint on the wall at around 5:40pm on Tuesday. He had already painted an anarchy symbol and the numerals “112,” which were crossed out in apparent protest to the royal defamation law, which is Section 112 of the Criminal Code. Also known as lese majeste, the law which punishes any offense deemed to “defame, insult, or threaten” the monarchy with up to 15 years in prison per offense. The law, which had fallen out of favor for some years, was brought back to charge and jail political dissidents, particularly those demanding reform of the monarchy.
Hours after the graffiti was painted and then painted over, pro-democracy group Thalugaz carried on the mural’s message elsewhere in Bangkok.
The Thai Lawyers group said Bang-ern is an artist from Khon Kaen. Thai politics have been a major part of his childhood since he attended Redshirt protests with his father in 2010. He has produced political works that criticize the abuse of lese majeste in Thailand. Bang-ern has attended anti-monarchy protests that took place in Bangkok and Khon Kaen between 2020 and 2021.
In early 2022, his apartment in Khon Kaen was raided and Bang-ern was taken to a police station without any arrest warrant presented. He was forced to delete around 12 photos of his work from his Facebook, being told by police that they amounted to royal insults.
Copycat anti-112 murals appear overnight in Bangkok
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