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Jail for insulting King

A Swiss man has became the first foreigner in more than a decade to be convicted under Thailand's tough lese-majeste laws and has been jailed for 10 years for insulting the country's King. Oliver Jufer (57), from Zurich, had admitted defacing images of King Bhumibol Adulyadej during a drunken rampage with a can of spray-paint that he had bought to use on his dog's kennel. Jufer appeared in court in Chiang Mai, where he has lived for several years. Judge Phitsanu Tanbukalee initially imposed a 20-year sentence but halved the term because Jufer had confessed to the crime, which was caught on CCTV. ``The court has punished him for insulting the King. This is a serious crime,'' the judge said. Jufer had been drinking with a friend on a national holiday to mark the King's 79th birthday last December, and became outraged when alcohol sales were suspended. He drove his motorbike home to pick up the spray paint and returned to Chiang Mai's municipal office, where he climbed a ladder before defacing a large portrait. He then proceeded to spray graffiti over four other portraits near home. —

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

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