Thailand sentences man to 3 years for royal insult

Thursday - 3/28/2013, 1:30am EDT

BANGKOK (AP) - A Thai man was sentenced to three years and four months in prison Thursday for selling video CDs of an Australian TV news segment deemed offensive to Thailand's royal family.

The court convicted 37-year-old Akachai Hongkangwan under lese majeste laws prohibiting defamation of the royal family.

The VCDs contained a segment on the Australian Broadcasting Corp.'s Foreign Correspondent series in 2010 that questioned the future of Thailand's monarchy. The segment included footage from a private video of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn with his then wife-to-be.

The court also fined him for 66,666 baht ($2,271) for violating copyright law.

Akachai was selling the VCDs during the anti-government demonstration in Bangkok in 2010. He was arrested in March 2011 and was released on bail.

The court reduced the original sentence of five years to three years and four months, citing that Akachai had provided useful accounts during the trials.

Thailand's lese majeste laws mandate a jail term of up to 15 years. They are considered the harshest in the world and are criticized as an infringement of free speech.


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