Thailand: 20-year jail term for royal insult

A Thai court yesterday sentenced a 61-year-old man to 20 years in prison for sending text messages deemed to insult Queen Sirikit.

Ampon Tangnopakul sent the messages to the private secretary of former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, during demonstrations in Bangkok last year. It is not clear what the messages said, but the Central Bureau of Investigation said the texts were "considered insulting to the monarchy".

Ampon argued that his mobile phone was being repaired at the time the offending messages were sent.

The case illustrates just how sensitive a subject the royal family is in Thailand. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 83, the world's longest-reigning monarch, is revered as a demi-god by most Thais.

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