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

May 8, 2012
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The 61-year-old Thai man better known as “Ah-gong” or “Uncle SMS” for sending text messages deemed insulting to the monarchy and who received a 20-year prison sentence died early today, Corrections Department Director-General Suchart Wonganantachai announced.

Lese majeste convict Ampol Tangnoppakul suffered stomachache since Thursday and had taken medication provided by Bangkok Remand Prison where he was serving his jail term, Mr Suchart said.

Mr Ampol’s condition continued to deteriorate, the corrections department chief said. The inmate was transferred to the prison hospital Friday and died early today.

Thailand’s Criminal Court handed down a 20-year jail term in November after Mr Ampol being found guilty under the lese majeste law and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act for texting messages deemed insulting Her Majesty the Queen in 2010.

The court refused to grant him bail.

Mr Ampol’s wife Rosmalin told reporters that a prison official called her this morning and told her that her husband had passed away without giving details.

“I never expected that my husband would die so suddenly as he was a man of patience. Never before had he shown his pain,” Mrs Rosmalin said. “Last Friday he complained to me that he was suffering from stomachache and flatulence.”

“Ah-gong used to express concern that he did not want other people to suffer injustice like him,” she stated.

The Corrections Department chief pledged that an autopsy of the departed inmate would be performed in a fair manner. He said Mr Ampol was suffering from cancer of the mouth but said he had shown no serious symptoms that could lead to his death.

It is reported that a group of activists will gather at Bangkok Remand Prison this evening to demonstrate their disapproval of the lese majeste law. (MCOT online news)

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