Man jailed 20 years for Thai king insults

A Thai court yesterday sentenced a man to 20 years in prison for sending text messages deemed insulting to the monarchy, his lawyer said, under the kingdom's strict lese-majeste laws.

Ampon Tangnoppakul (61) was found guilty of four counts of sending messages to the private secretary of then-prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in May 2010, according to the criminal court in Bangkok.

"The court found him guilty and sentenced him to 20 years in jail," said his lawyer Anon Nampa adding that he had 30 days to lodge an appeal.

Ampon was arrested in August last year and pleaded not guilty to the charges during his trial. After his arrest, Thailand's Central Bureau of Investigation said the messages were "inappropriate and considered insulting to the monarchy and have upset the recipients," without revealing their content.

Under Thai law, anyone convicted of insulting the king, queen, heir or regent faces up to 15 years in prison on each count. Academics have noted a sharp increase in new royal insult cases.

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