A Swiss man living in Chiang Mai has pleaded guilty to insulting the King of Thailand and faces the prospect of a 75-year prison sentence.
The incident occurred on December 5th 2006 (the King’s birthday) when 57-year-old Oliver Rudolf Jufer drunkenly defaced portraits of the Thai king. His actions were captured on CCTV. Insulting the King or belittling the monarch is a crime in Thailand. The law of lese majeste carries a maximum sentence of 15 years and Jufer has pleaded guilty to 5 separate charges. As a long-term resident in the kingdom, Jufer would certainly have known that insulting the Thai royal family carries serious consequences for Thai or foreigner.
King Bhumibol is the world’s current longest serving monarch, recently celebrating 60 years as king. This year marks the 80th birthday of the man who is seen as the father of the nation for his good deeds and caring demeanour. He is revered in Thailand where many people wear yellow every Monday as a sign of respect for the King who was born on a Monday.
Jufer will be sentenced on March 29th and it is possible that his guilty plea will lessen his punishment.
29/3/07 update – read sentencing report here.