The longest sentence of 50 years in prison has been handed down in Thailand under the lèse majesté law for criticising the monarchy on social media.

A 30-year-old man in Thailand is facing 50 years in prison for posts criticising the Thai monarchy on social media. It is the longest sentence handed down under the country’s strict honour and dignity law.

Mongkol Thirakot, an online clothing seller from the northern province of Chiang Rai, was already facing 28 years in prison for comments made on Facebook* three years ago. But on Thursday, 18 January, an appeals court added another 22 years to the sentence, finding the man guilty of 11 more offences.

Under Thailand’s lèse majesté laws, often referred to as Article 112 of the Thai Penal Code, insulting the monarch carries a prison term of between three and 15 years for each offence. Generally, different postings or comments on social media are considered separate incidents.

The law was briefly suspended when King Mahi Vachiralongkorn’s reign began in 2019. But when unprecedented student protests broke out three years ago, openly calling for royal reforms, Section 112 was reinstated.

More than 260 activists have since been charged, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. On Wednesday, 17 January, a prominent activist and lawyer who led the protests and was the first to call for a public debate on the monarch also had his prison sentence increased from four to eight years.

The lèse majesté laws were the subject of controversy in last year’s election when the progressive Moving Forward party called for a change in the law. In an unexpected result, the youth group won the election but struggled to form a coalition government because of this stance.

Later this month, the Constitutional Court will rule on whether the party should be dissolved over calls to change the lèse majesté law.

The latest verdict is “the longest in the history of Section 112 cases”, Teraphon Khumsap, Mongkol’s lawyer, told Reuters. Details of what the accused said have not been released.

The previous record sentence was handed down in 2021 when retired servicewoman Anchan Preilert was sentenced to 43 years in prison.

Anchan Preilert, who was in her 60s at the time of sentencing, uploaded audio recordings of a vocal critic of the monarchy 26 times to YouTube and three times to Facebook between 2014 and 2015. Security officials later searched her home.

“I thought it was nothing,” Preilert told Bangkok media on the day she appeared in court. “There were so many people sharing this content and listening to it.”

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