Harry Nicolaides, a Greek-Australian writer who has worked in Thailand as a university lecturer and freelance writer was arrested at Bangkok airport on 31 August 2008 and now is facing 15 years in jail for allegedly defaming Thailand’s crown prince. Mark Dean, a Melbourne-based lawyer for 41-year-old Harry Nicolaides, said judges at Bangkok’s Criminal Court deemed it to be a “very serious offense” and regarded him as a flight risk. This was the official reason for which Nicolaides’s bail application was rejected.
“His family is very concerned about his welfare,” Dean told Reuters. His relatives had written to Thailand’s royal household, Dean said, apologizing for any offense caused by his 2005 novel ‘Verisimilitude,’ billed on the Phuket info.com Web site as an “uncompromising assault on the patrician values of the monarchy.”
In newspaper interviews from the prison where he has been held since his Sept. 3 arrest, Nicolaides said only 50 copies of the novel had been printed and only seven sold.He also admitted to feeling suicidal in prison, and feared being beaten up by the 90 men with whom he shares a cell because they had found out about his alleged misdemeanor.
Lese-majeste, or insulting the monarchy, is a very serious offense in Thailand, where many people regard 80-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej as semi-divine. It is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
As Nicolaides continues to languish in a Bangkok prison cell, the use and abuse of the lèse majesté law has received a modicum of worldwide scrutiny. However since 21 September, Nicolaides’ case has been completely out of the news.
Sources: Reuters.com & News.com.au