Thai junta seeks extradition of royal
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[October 25, 2016]
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's
military government has requested the extradition of several people
suspected of insulting the monarchy after the death of King Bhumibol
Adulyadej, the foreign minister said on Tuesday.
Sensitivities are running high in the Southeast Asian country following
the death of the revered king on October 13, after seven decades on the
It has also led to the rise of ultra-royalist vigilante groups who say
they will punish anyone perceived to have insulted the monarchy during a
highly sensitive time for Thailand.
There has been a jump in the number of prosecutions for criticism of the
monarch, the regent or the heir to the throne. Known by the French term
lese majeste, the crime can carry a jail term of up to 15 years for each
The law has curtailed public discussion about the monarchy's role and
its future following the death of King Bhumibol, who was seen as a
Last week, the government said it sought the prosecution of 19 lese
majeste suspects in seven countries. It has not identified the
individuals or the countries.
Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai told reporters letters had been sent to
the countries where the suspects live.
"There may be a problem because if these crimes aren't illegal in the
other countries, it will make extradition difficult," the minister said.
"However, we can still ask for cooperation."
Since taking power in 2014, the junta, known officially as the National
Council for Peace and Order, has taken a tough stance on dissenters.
Thailand's government has been criticized by the international community
over prison sentences for civilians found guilty of violating the
lese-majeste law. No country has openly indicated readiness to extradite
any suspect to Thailand.
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A mourner uses her mobile phone to take a photograph of an image of
Thailand's late King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Silpakorn University in
Bangkok, Thailand, October 24, 2016. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom
"First, the extradition requests are part of scare tactics to curb
the so-called violations, and second, to appease the powerful elite
factions whose interests rely on ultra-royalism," Verapat
Pariyawong, a visiting scholar at London's SOAS School of Law, told
The government has urged citizens to report cases of lese majeste to
authorities. It has also asked internet service providers to monitor
and block inappropriate material.
"These laws are not meant to repress citizens but to protect the
royal institution," Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters.
(Reporting by Aukkarapon Niyomyat; Writing by Cod Satrusayang;
Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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