Thai couple faces lèse majesté charges for not standing for royal anthem in cinema
A Thai man and his female friend have been charged by police with lèse majesté for not standing for the royal anthem at a movie theatre in Bangkok late last year.
On April 5, 2008, Pathumwan District Police called to Chotisak Onsung, 26, and his friend, asking them to visit the police station to hear the charge for the offence alleged by Navamintr Witthayakul, 40, who was among the cinema audience.
The lawyer for Chotisak and his friend, Songkran Pongbunjan, said that on Saturday, April 5, he met the police investigator to request a postponement to April 22 at 1.30pm because it was too soon for his clients to see the police that day.
Songkran said that according to the police investigator all witnesses had already been questioned, and a police committee had taken opinions from individuals and academics and decided to proceed the case. However, a panel under the National Police Committee will make the final decision on whether to pursue the case or not.
According to Songkran, Chotisak and his friend are likely to seek help from the Lawyers' Council's human rights committee.
On September 20, 2007, Chotisak and his friend went to a cinema in Central World shopping complex in downtown Bangkok. They were urged by Navamintr to stand up for the royal anthem which precedes every movie shown in Thailand's cinemas, and they had a heated argument with the man. They claimed that they were physically abused. Afterwards they filed complaints at Pathumwan police station against Navamintr for verbal and physical abuse, damage to personal property and coercion, while Navamintr filed a lèse majesté complaint against them.
Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code stipulates the penalty for a lèse majesté offence as 3-15 years' imprisonment.