Police officers form a line next to a portrait of Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn in Bangkok, Thailand. File/Reuters
An anti-government activist accused of burning a portrait of Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn was arrested on Wednesday police said, the latest among dozens of people charged in recent months for insulting the monarchy.
Musician and activist Chaiamorn “Ammy” Kaewwiboonpan, 32 was arrested in Ayutthaya province north of Bangkok and is accused of setting fire to the portrait on Sunday in front of a Bangkok prison where four prominent activists are being held.
Chaiamorn is charged under a strict lese majeste law that carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison if found guilty, as well as arson and trespassing on government property.
“We have both witnesses and forensic evidence,” Bangkok police chief Pakapong Pongpetra told a news conference, adding Chaiamorn was not the only person suspected of involvement.
Chaiamorn was receiving medical treatment at a hospital for an injury unrelated to his arrest, police said.
His lawyer Sasinan Thamnithinan said he would be granted access to Chaiamorn later on Wednesday when police take a statement from his client.
Months of youth-led protest against the military-backed government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha last year also broke traditional taboos by calling for reform of the powerful monarchy.
At least 61 people has subsequently been charged with lese majeste, based on data compiled by legal aid group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.
Four of those are prominent protest leaders currently in prison awaiting trial.
The portrait burning took place the same day, hours before protesters marched on a Bangkok military base to call for the king to give up direct control over army units transferred to him in 2019 by the government of Prayuth, a former military chief.
Police used rubber bullets against the youth-led protesters for the first time on Sunday, as well as tear gas and water cannon.
A Thai anti-junta activist who spent more than two years behind bars for insulting the country’s monarchy by sharing an unflattering BBC article about the king walked free Friday on a royal pardon.
Thailand began the third and final day of coronation ceremonies for King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who will meet foreign diplomats and greet his subjects from atop a balcony,
King Maha Vajiralongkorn, Rama X of Thailand, was crowned on Saturday in a dazzling show of pageantry, laced with Hindu and Buddhist ritual, vowing to reign “with righteousness” on behalf of the Thai people.
Fire officials say about 15 people were on the deck of a beach house on the 20500 block of Pacific Coast Highway on Saturday when it gave way, dropping them onto the large rocks below.
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Their Highnesses Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates have also congratulated Sheikh Khalifa, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid and Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed, on the advent of Eid Al Fitr.