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Thai court jails man for insulting monarchy

A man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison by a military court in Thailand's latest conviction on charges of insulting the monarchy.

The legal monitoring group iLaw says Tara, whose last name it withheld to protect his privacy, was convicted and sentenced on Wednesday on six counts for uploading to the internet six audio files made by a critic of the monarchy.

It says Tara has been held without bail since January 2015 and pleaded guilty to receive a more lenient sentence.

The court accordingly reduced the penalty for each count from five years to three-and-a-half years in prison. The maximum penalty is 15 years.

At least 93 cases of lese majeste involving 138 people have been prosecuted since the military seized power in 2014.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said in a report this week that use of the lese majeste statute, once relatively rare, increased markedly after a military coup in 2006, and escalated further after the 2014 military takeover.

Since 2014, the group said, the law was extended in practice to cover people who clicked "like" or "share" on Facebook, even when they did not write the post in question, and those who made satirical posts about the pets of the monarch.

Tara was convicted for spreading audio files produced by "DJ Banpodj," an underground internet talk show host known for his strong criticism of the monarchy.

"DJ Banpodj" was arrested in 2015, and according to iLaw, at least five other people have been charged with lese majeste for sharing audio clips produced by his network.


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