Appeals Court upholds Arisman sentence

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BANGKOK, Dec 9 — Thailand’s Court of Appeals today upheld the 12 month prison sentence for red shirt leader Arisman Pongruangrong for defaming former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. There is no suspension of sentence due to his reference to the royal institution.

Mr Abhisit, the leader of the Democrat Party, filed the defamation lawsuit against Mr Arisman, a red shirt political movement leader, for his speeches at the Democracy Monument and Government House on Oct 11 and 17, 2009, accusing the then prime minister of borrowing money for corruption, delaying a petition for the royal pardon of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and ordering Thai army soldiers to kill members of the public.

The Court of First Instance sentenced Mr Arisman to 12 months in jail and did not suspend it as the royal institution was mentioned, which made the case an instance of lese majeste.

It also ordered Mr Arisman to have the ruling published in two newspapers for seven consecutive days.

The Appealw Court upheld the sentence as the speeches showed no political ideals as claimed but communicated accusations.

The court rejected Mr Arisman’s request for reduced punishment and suspension because he, as a politician, failed to demonstrate proper judgment on his own behaviour and refrain from defaming others.

Thanadet Puangpoon, Mr Arisman’s lawyer, said he sought his client’s temporary release on bail of Bt500,000.