Thai court adds jail time for rights lawyer who urged monarchy reform

FILE PHOTO: Activist Arnon Nampa

BANGKOK (Reuters) - A Thai court sentenced a prominent jailed activist lawyer on Monday to a further two years in prison for royal insults relating to a speech he made at a 2021 protest, his lawyer said.

Human Rights lawyer Arnon Nampa, 39, was handed a jail sentence of two years and 20 days and a fine of 100 baht ($2.70) for royal insult, breaching of an emergency decree and other charges for making a speech at a political rally in 2021, his lawyer Junjira Junpaew told Reuters.

"Arnon denied all wrongdoing," Junjira Junpaew said, adding that his legal team will appeal the sentencing.

Arnon is currently serving eight years in prison for two royal insult convictions, one stemming from a speech at a political rally in 2020 and another from a social media post in 2021. He has been in prison since September last year.

The latest sentence was ordered to run consecutively which means Arnon will now serve 10 years and 20 days, according to legal aid group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

Thailand's lese-majeste law, one of the world's toughest, protects the monarchy from criticism and carries a maximum jail sentence of up to 15 years for each perceived royal insult.

Monday's verdict is the third of 14 cases against Arnon, a lawyer-turned-protest leader of youth-led democracy movement that held protests in Bangkok in 2020, calling for reform of the monarchy.

At least 272 people have been charged with lese-majeste offences since 2020, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

($1 = 37.0300 baht)

(Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Panu Wongcha-um; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)