The April Fool’s Day joke of the Thai airline may be subject to local laws

(Reuters) – April Fool’s statement alleged by staff at the Thai Vietjet airliner could lead to criminal charges after an activist lawyer filed a complaint with police saying he abused the king of Thailand Maha Vajiralongkorn.

The police will later decide whether to prosecute the criminal case under strict “lese majeste” laws – insulting the monarchy is punishable by up to 15 years in prison – against the law. aircraft carrier.

Thai Vietjet’s official report released on April 1 that the plane was embarking on a new international route between the Thai province of Nan and Munich in Germany, which has sparked cyber anger and intimidation. in boycotts among ultra-royalists.

The erroneous tweet was released and the plane was released the next day in a statement that said the top official was not aware of the tweet announcing a “flight route through a province in Thailand. and a city in Europe, which has led to popular opinion. “

The tweet did not mention King Vajiralongkorn, 69, who is believed to have spent most of his time in Germany, or his Nan -born princess, Sineenat Wongvajiraphakdi.

The king gave Sineenat the title of monarch shortly after her anointing in 2019. She married earlier in the year to a member of her own bodyguard, and became Queen. Suthida.

Student -led protests in recent years have seen some activists openly criticize the monarch for his time out of the country, among other things. About 183 people have been charged with defaming the monarch since the protests began in 2020.

Airline CEO Woranate Laprabang responded to the online outrage by saying officials had been fired awaiting trial.

“I want to apologize to the Thai people for this incident,” Woranate said.

But lawyer and activist Srisuwan Janya filed a police complaint for criminal abuse and computer misconduct, saying in a Facebook post that the tweet “expresses intent to defame” and the request is not enough.

Srisuwan is known in Thailand as a major scapegoat in lawsuits with the police, when he told the Bangkok Post that he counted more than 1,000 files alleging fraud. sales, corruption and environmental problems. Reuters could not determine how many of his complaints led to the lawsuit.

Police will consider the complaint by looking at the “universal facts” about what happened and “whether it was a criminal intent,” Kissana Phathanacharoen, a Thai police spokesman, said.

Thailand’s current lese majeste laws, condemned by some activists and opposition politicians, are a fearless move into a country that has consistently supported the monarch as semi-divine. and upon condemnation.

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