Thai grandfather sentenced to 20 years for lese majeste dies in jail
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Thai grandfather sentenced to 20 years for lese majeste dies in jail

BP has already blogged about the 20-year sentence given to Amphon Tangnoppakul/Uncle SMS for sending four SMS messages deemed to be lese majeste, but today comes the tragic news he has died in jail. AP:

 A lawyer for a man sentenced to 20 years for sending text messages deemed insulting to the monarchy says his client has died.

Amphon Tangnoppakul was in his 60s and became known as “Uncle SMS” when a Thai court issued the verdict in his case in late 2011. It was the heaviest sentence ever handed down in Thailand for a so-called lese majeste case.

Amphon’s lawyer Anon Numpa said Tuesday that the cause of death was not yet known and he was not sure when his client died. He said Amphon’s wife learned about it early Tuesday during a visit to the Bangkok prison where he was being held.

The Nation though seems to have later report where the lawyer says it was cancer:

Meanwhile his lawyer, Anon Ampa of Rassadornprasong Law Office said on his Facebook page, that it was believed that Amphon, known as Akong or grandpa in Chinese, died from cancer.

Amphon was arrested on August 3, 2010 and was convicted on November 23 last year. Anon recently withdrew his client’s appeal, as the elderly man wished to ask for a royal pardon.

If true, it would not be surprising. The Bangkok Post:

He had steadfastly denied the charges, arguing his mobilephone was not in his possession at the time the messages were sent and that he did not even know how to send a text message.

A grandfather, who suffered from mouth cancer, he was jailed last November.

The cause of death was not immediately known, but he had complained of stomach pains on Friday and was transferred to the Corrections Department hospital, his lawyer was reported as saying.

BP: It is hard to know whether he would have received better treatment outside the prison as we don’t know for sure the cause of death, but having cancer while living on Thai prison food and being reliant on the prison hospital are unlikely to be factors in helping you live longer. The extent though is unclear and will never be known. Nevertheless, one does wonder how much of a national security threat a man in his 60s with cancer is that he needs to be locked up in jail?

Matichon has sourced photos showing Uncle SMSes after she find out the news and other reaction.

btw, Andrew has some comments here.