Parents of Thai ex-princess given jail term for lese majeste

Alleged lese majeste guilty, parents of former royal consort princess Srirasm, Apiruj Suwadee (R) and his wife Wanthanee Suwadee (C) arrive the criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand, 11 March 2015. Image copyright EPA
Image caption The judge reduced the sentence of Srirasmi's parents from five years because they pleaded guilty

The parents of a former Thai princess have been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to defaming the monarchy.

The parents of Srirasmi Suwadee, who was recently divorced from Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, admitted misusing their royal connections 12 years ago.

Nine of Ms Srirasmi's relatives have been arrested since last year.

Thailand's royal family is protected by some of the strictest lese majeste laws in the world.

On Wednesday, a court sentenced Apiruj Suwadee, 72, and his wife Wanthanee, 66, for insulting the royal family, lodging a malicious claim and asking authorities to file false charges against their neighbour in 2003.

Ms Srirasmi gave up all her royal titles last December.

Various members of her family, including her sister and two brothers, have now been convicted and jailed for lese majeste.

The army staged a coup last year, and has since ramped up the use of the charge.

The law prohibits any negative comments about the king, queen, heir or regent. It carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Media organisations cannot report the full details of any case without risking prosecution under the law.

Critics say the law restricts free speech and is used as a tool to silence political opposition.

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