A former civil servant was sentenced to a record prison term of 43 years and six months on Tuesday by a court in Thailand for violating the country's strict law on insulting or defaming the monarchy, lawyers said.
The Bangkok Criminal Court found the woman guilty on 29 charges of violating the lese majeste law of the country for uploading Facebook and YouTube audio clips with comments considered critical of the monarchy, the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights organization said.
The sentence, which comes in the midst of an ongoing campaign of outrage that has seen the monarchy's unprecedented public condemnation, was quickly denounced by rights groups.
“Today’s court verdict is shocking and sends a spine-chilling signal that not only criticisms of the monarchy won’t be tolerated, but they will also be severely punished,” said Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher for the group Human Rights Watch.
Violating Thailand’s lese majeste law — known widely as Article 112 — is punishable by three to 15 years’ imprisonment per count. The law is controversial not only because it has been used to punish things as simple as liking a post on Facebook but also because anyone — not just royals or authorities — can lodge a complaint that can tie the person accused up in legal proceedings for years.