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BoyBach
Mar 30, 2007, 01:04 PM
A Swiss man was sentenced to 10 years in a Thai prison yesterday for the "crime" of insulting Thailand's King.

In a drunken spree, Oliver Jufervandalised several portraits of King Bhumibol Adulyadej with black spraypaint. Mr Jufer, 57, has one month to appeal, but Thai lawyers say he has little hope of success.

Mr Jufer's imprisonment could not have come at a worse time for Thailand's image abroad, with its vital tourism industry already suffering after last year's military coup. His trial overshadows an announcement that elections will be held to restore democracy in December after the generals who control Thailand recently failed to have martial law reimposed in Bangkok to stop pro-democracy demonstrations.

The Swiss man, a long-term Thai resident, is being jailed under the country's archaic lese-majeste laws, which were enforced long before the generals seized power last year.

Thailand is one of very few countries in the world that still enforce lese-majeste. Any criticism of the King or royal family is illegal. Many Thais have run foul of the law, but Mr Jufer is thought to be the first foreigner to be jailed under it.

He was arrested in Chiang Mai, a popular tourist destination where he lived, after he went around the city late at night spraypainting portraits of the King that had been put up for his birthday. He was caught on closed circuit surveillance cameras. Police said Mr Jufer was drunk. He was sentenced to 20 years, but the judge reduced the sentence because Mr Jufer pleaded guilty.

General Sonthi Boonyaratgalin, leader of last year's coup, had been pressing for a state of emergency to be declared in Bangkok to stop protests calling for a return to democracy. But Surayud Chulanont, the Prime Minister appointed by General Sonthi, said yesterday that there was no need for a state of emergency and announced elections to be held in December.

As for Mr Jufer, there has been no public protest from the Swiss government. It appears his best hope now lies with a royal pardon.

- The Independent (http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/article2405138.ece)


Now I'm all for bring respectful to other countries laws and customs when your a guest, but ten years for a bit of graffiti? Seems a tad harsh to me.

runplaysleeprun
Mar 30, 2007, 01:50 PM
good to know the swiss government won't lift a finger to try and bail you out if you're getting nailed by some archaic laws. lousy neutrals. :)

spicyapple
Mar 30, 2007, 01:56 PM
Their king is very well loved and respected.

If you drop some Baht bills on the ground and are chasing after it, it's considered extremely disrespectful to stomp on it with your feet. (It's like you're stepping on his portrait) You must pick it up with your hands. Whether you can go to jail for it or not, I'm unsure.

I think a suitable punishment for the Swiss is a caning for each portrait defaced.

miloblithe
Mar 30, 2007, 02:05 PM
Definitely a harsh punishment, but as a long-time resident, this guy probably knew exactly what he was getting himself into by running around and defacing multiple portraits.

northernmunky
Mar 30, 2007, 02:21 PM
I think its still illegal in the UK to burn paper money because it has an image of the Queen on it. I dont know if thats still the case or even if its ever been enforced... :confused:

BoyBach
Mar 30, 2007, 02:30 PM
I think its still illegal in the UK to burn paper money because it has an image of the Queen on it. I dont know if thats still the case or even if its ever been enforced... :confused:


I believe you're right.

It's also treason to steal post from the 'Royal Mail'

(Not quite related but almost - you can use postage stamps as legal tender.)

Airforce
Mar 30, 2007, 02:37 PM
I think its still illegal in the UK to burn paper money because it has an image of the Queen on it. I dont know if thats still the case or even if its ever been enforced... :confused:

Well it's illegal here in the United States as well and punishable by 6 months imprisonment, but only because you are destroying the money, not because of some image. :p

(Title 18 United States Code, Section 333)

dornoforpyros
Mar 30, 2007, 03:09 PM
Definitely a harsh punishment, but as a long-time resident, this guy probably knew exactly what he was getting himself into by running around and defacing multiple portraits.

Agreed. The punishment may be harsh by our standards, but the guy still should have known better. I certainly don't agree with a 10 year sentence for this, but the "i was drunk" argument doesn't hold any water.

combatcolin
Mar 30, 2007, 04:52 PM
The Thais are incredibly loyal to there king.

Abstract
Mar 30, 2007, 08:06 PM
It's not just the loyalty. It's extremely disrespectful for any foreigner to do something stupid like that.

Doing stupid things like this may be more acceptable in "Western" countries, but don't expect sympathy when you walk into a country and do something disrespectful like this. He may not have any respect for the Thai King because he wasn't born in Thailand, but not having respect for him doesn't give him permission to do that to the portraits.

It's like people who go to Singapore and break a law they knew existed. I really don't feel sympathy towards some of these people.

EricNau
Mar 30, 2007, 08:12 PM
It's not just the loyalty. It's extremely disrespectful for any foreigner to do something stupid like that.

Doing stupid things like this may be more acceptable in "Western" countries, but don't expect sympathy when you walk into a country and do something disrespectful like this. He may not have any respect for the Thai King because he wasn't born in Thailand, but not having respect for him doesn't give him permission to do that to the portraits.

It's like people who go to Singapore and break a law they knew existed. I really don't feel sympathy towards some of these people.
The Swiss man is a long-term Thai resident.

Not sure if he's a citizen of Switzerland or Thailand though.

JLatte
Mar 30, 2007, 11:34 PM
heh... being half Thai and having gone to thailand pretty much every other year, I can completely understand where the punishment comes from. I agree that it might have been slightly excessive, but he definitely should have known better than to deface anything with the king's portrait on it. The Royal Family is utterly respected and he being a foreigner should have been extra careful when he was drunk.

Bern
Apr 1, 2007, 02:08 AM
The Swiss man is a long-term Thai resident.

Not sure if he's a citizen of Switzerland or Thailand though.

So what.. he should show a little more respect not just towards another country's monarch but to the country itself. What right does he have to decide to do such a think. If that's the punishment for what he did than so be it.

But just to be devil's advocate here (as I so often am) what if the situation were reversed I wonder? Would the word "racism" be touted about? I'm sure here in Australia it would. Funny how we recognise it for what it really is, yet so easily bastardise such a word in other instances.

EricNau
Apr 1, 2007, 02:13 AM
So what.. he should show a little more respect not just towards another country's monarch but to the country itself. What right does he have to decide to do such a think. If that's the punishment for what he did than so be it.

But just to be devil's advocate here (as I so often am) what if the situation were reversed I wonder? Would the word "racism" be touted about? I'm sure here in Australia it would. Funny how we recognise it for what it really is, yet so easily bastardise such a word in other instances.
My point was simply that the man was not a "foreigner" - nothing more.

It's still disrespectful, but in a different way than Abstract suggested.