Bangkok (Reuters) - Thailand’s military government said on Tuesday it would ask other countries to extradite people suspected of insulting the nation’s monarchy following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej last week.
Thailand has entered a year of mourning and sensitivities are running high following the death of the revered king last week after seven decades on the throne.
Criticism of the monarch, the regent or the heir, known by the French term lese majeste, is a crime that carries a jail sentence of up to 15 years in Thailand.
The junta said it has been tracking six high-profile lese majeste suspects living abroad who it says have tried to stir up unrest in Thailand and will ask for their extradition.
“We will ask for cooperation, friendship and respect from these countries and we hope that they understand that all Thais cannot accept these insults,” Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya told reporters.
Paiboon conceded that there were significant legal and diplomatic challenges around seeking the extraditions but said he would proceed with the requests regardless.
The junta last week urged citizens to report cases of lese majeste to authorities. It has also asked internet service providers to monitor content and block inappropriate material.
Some Thais have taken the matter into their own hands. A series of videos has surfaced online in recent days showing angry mobs accusing people of insulting the monarchy.
In the latest incident, a man in Chonburi province was shown being pushed around by a mob and struck several times on the head. He was later forced to prostrate himself before a portrait of the late king, apologise, and shout “I love the king” while onlookers hurled punches and death threats at him.
On Monday, an elderly woman accused of insulting the monarchy was struck in the face after commuters forced her to leave the bus she was riding on.
“How could you insult the royal father? You shouldn’t have been born,” the person who assaulted her was heard shouting on the video.
Police said the woman was mentally ill.
Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Cod Satrusayang; Editing by John Chalmers and Nick Macfie