A prominent activist and lawyer made famous for his open calls for reform of Thailand's powerful monarchy was on Tuesday sentenced to four years in prison for royal insults, a judge and his lawyer said.
Human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa is widely known for his taboo-breaking speech during pro-democracy protests in 2020 during which he called for public debate on the role of Thailand's powerful king. Arnon had denied wrongdoing.
Thailand's lese-majeste law shields the palace from criticism and carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years for each perceived insult of the monarchy, a punishment widely condemned by international human rights groups.
"We are trying to get him bail," his lawyer Krisadang Nutcharus told Reuters.
The verdict was the first of 14 lese majeste cases against the outspoken Arnon, one of hundreds of people who have been charged under the law, among the strictest of its kind in the world.
He was a leader in the youth-led pro-democracy movement that swept the capital Bangkok in 2020, drawing hundreds of thousands into the streets.
Protesters had called for former prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to step down after he came to power in a coup, and for reforming the monarchy and abolishing the royal insult law, known as article 112 of the criminal code.
As of last month, at least 257 people have been charged with 112 since 2020, according legal aide group, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. The palace typically does not comment on the law.