Picture: Monarchy - Press Photo - 07.07.10
A CD/VCD vendor in Bangkok has been sentenced to three years and four months in prison and fined $2,300 for selling a controversial documentary about the Thai royal family produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. The court suspended one third of its original five-year sentence following Ekachai Hongkangwan's admission that he had offered copies of the Foreign Correspondent program for sale and his plea that he did not intend to insult the Monarchy. Police also found among Ekachai's possessions copies of Wikileaks documents that were also critical of the royal family. Under Thailand's lÃ¨se majestÃ© laws, anyone convicted of insulting the monarchy faces a sentence of up to 15 years in prison on each count. His conviction comes at a time when members of Thailand's Public Broadcasting Service are being investigated for violation of the same law for airing a five-part discussion about the role of the monarchy in today's Thai society. Earlier today, Thailand's Minister of Defense, Sukumpol Suwanatat expressed concern that the news media's reports on sensitive issues involving the government can stir unrest.