Two Thais, including a student, accused of insulting the country's monarchy in a satirical play performed at a university, have been jailed for two-and-a-half years on Monday. The sentence comes in the wake of the ruling junta intensifying its crackdown on criticism against the royals under the kingdom's controversial lese majeste law.
Student Patiwat Saraiyaem, 23, and activist Porntip Munkong, 26, pleaded guilty to defamation for performing the play "The Wolf Bride", a satire set in a fictional kingdom, at Thammasat University in 2013, reports BBC.
The play marked the 40th anniversary of a pro-democracy student protest at the university that was dealt with a heavy hand by the military regime in October 1973.
Saraiyaem and Munkong were charged with one count of lese majeste, the crime of violating majesty. "112" is the feared section of the Thai criminal code which carries up to 15 years in jail for each count of "insulting the king, queen, heir or the regent."
The two were initially sentenced to five years in prison, but the sentence was reduced to two years and six months after they confessed to the 'crime', a judge at Ratchada Criminal Court in Bangkok said.
Police are hunting for at least six others involved in the performance of "The Wolf Bride" that "caused serious damage to the monarchy and sees no reason to suspend their sentences," ruled the judge.
There has been a noticeable rise in royal defamation cases since the military seized power in a coup in May last year, with at least 15 people having been charged with lese majeste since then.
Among them, is a taxi driver who was jailed for two-and-a-half years after his passenger recorded their conversation, while a student who defamed the monarchy on Facebook was also sentenced to the same amount of prison time.
The 87-year-old Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej is revered like a demi-god in the country.