Thai junta detains second man over Facebook infographic

A second man had been arrested in Thailand for sharing an infographic on Facebook about a growing corruption scandal.
A second man had been arrested in Thailand for sharing an infographic on Facebook about a growing corruption scandal. PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (AFP) - Thailand's junta said Monday (Dec 14) a second man had been arrested for sharing an infographic on Facebook about a growing corruption scandal over a public park that has shaken the kingdom's military rulers.

"He was arrested on Sunday at a hospital. He posted a false infographic on social media," junta spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree told AFP.

The 25-year-old, identified by Thai media as Thanet Anantawong, shared the infographic about Rajabhakti Park, a multi-million-dollar park built by the military under construction contracts allegedly riddled with kickbacks.

The generals partially justified their coup last year as necessary to curb endemic corruption among civilian politicians and protect the royal family.

The park, in the seaside resort town of Hua Hin, was intended as a tribute to the monarchy, but has become engulfed in a graft scandal that has undermined the junta's anti-corruption pledges.

"He was charged by police for violating computer crime act, defamation, and sedition," Winthai said, declining to specify where the man was being held except that he was "in the control of authorities".

The junta leadership, including Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha, has insisted there was no graft related to the park. But the accusations have still swirled in local media, transfixing a country where dissent has become rare.

Last week auto-parts factory worker Thanakorn Siripaiboon, 27, was arrested and charged with sedition and computer crimes for sharing what is presumed to be the same infographic. He was also charged with lese majeste for clicking "like" on a doctored photo of the king.

On Monday a military court in Bangkok approved Thanakorn's detention after he had been held incommunicado at an unspecified military base for several days, a court official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Under Thai law anyone convicted of insulting the revered but ailing 88-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, or the queen, heir or regent can face up to 15 years in jail on each count.

Prosecutions have soared since the army, which styles itself as the champion of the monarchy, grabbed power last year.