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Swiss man jailed for 10 years for insulting Thai king

London Guardian
Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Swiss man was today sentenced to 10 years in prison for insulting the Thai royal family. Oliver Rudolf Jufer, 57, was jailed for spray-painting graffiti over five posters of Thailand's revered king. It is the first conviction of a foreigner in a decade under strict Thai laws protecting the monarchy.
Jufer, who pleaded guilty to five counts of lese majeste, or insulting the monarchy, faced a maximum sentence of 75 years in prison. He has a month to appeal.

Judge Phitsanu Tanbukalee told the court that Jufer was given a reduced sentence since he had admitted his wrongdoing.
Jufer was caught by surveillance cameras on December 5 spray-painting black paint over five outdoor posters of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in the northern city of Chiang Mai, where he had lived for 10 years, police and prosecutors said. The Thai king is greatly loved in Thailand, with some believing he is semi-divine.

According to earlier testimony read aloud in court, Jufer had been drinking with a friend before driving his motorcycle home to pick up a can of spray-paint, which he had bought to paint his dog house.

He drove up to a municipal office where a large poster of the king was hung outside, and climbed a ladder to spray paint over the image. He then defaced four other posters near his home, according to the testimony.

Mr Jufer's court-appointed lawyer, Komkrit Kunyodying, called the penalty "appropriate for the crime he has committed", adding he did not yet know if his client planned to appeal.

Jacques Lauer, deputy chief of mission at the Swiss embassy in Bangkok said: "We respect the Thai justice system". He added that it was a "tough" verdict.



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