Thai Former Trader Gets 4-Year Jail Term for Online Post on King

A Thai court today sentenced a former equity trader to a four-year jail term for posting information on King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s health that it said caused the stock market to slide in October 2009.

Katha Pajariyapongse, who worked at a brokerage in Bangkok at the time, violated the nation’s Computer Crimes Act for posting content which was “untrue,” according to Bangkok’s Criminal Court. The post affected investor sentiment and resulted in declines in share prices, it said in a statement.

Thailand’s constitution says the king “shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated.” The benchmark SET Index (SET) slumped 7.2 percent in the two days through Oct. 15, 2009. The share-price declines were caused by an unspecified “untrue rumor,” the Securities and Exchange Commission said on Oct. 15, 2009.

Katha confessed to the police during the investigation that he posted “untrue” information about the king’s health, the court said. The court then cut the jail term to four years from six years, it said. Katha didn’t respond to reporters’ questions on whether he will appeal the ruling. His lawyer said he could not comment on whether Katha will appeal and declined to give his name because of the sensitivity of the issue.

King Bhumibol, 85, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, was admitted to the Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok on Sept. 19, 2009 with a fever, exhaustion and loss of appetite, according to the Royal Household Bureau. The monarch, who has remained at the hospital since then, appeared on Dec. 5 with his family at a birthday celebration in Bangkok before thousands of people waving royal flags and shouting “Long Live the King.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Anuchit Nguyen in Bangkok at anguyen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Allen Wan at awan3@bloomberg.net

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