‘Uncle SMS’ jailed for insulting Thai monarchy dies
Bangkok: A 61-year-old Thai man who became famous as 'Uncle SMS' after he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sending text messages insulting Thailand's monarchy died in prison on Tuesday.
Ampon Tangnoppakul died in the Bangkok prison hospital where he was being treated for acute stomach ache.
He was sentenced to 20 years in jail after the Criminal Court in November last year found him guilty of lese majeste (an offence against the dignity of a reigning sovereign or against a state) and computer crimes.
He was found guilty on four counts and was sentenced to five years in prison on each count.
He was charged with sending out four text messages with offensive content in May last year to the personal secretary of then prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
During the trial, Ampon could not produce experts to back up his claim that the messages' phone ID was forged, that he did not have the mobile in his possession at the time and that he did not even know how to send text messages from the phone.
He was quickly given the Internet nickname "Uncle SMS".
He initially appealed the court verdict.
His subsequent requests for bail were repeatedly rejected by the court.
Last month Ampon wanted to seek a royal pardon, saying he was old and suffering from oral cancer. The court approved the request.
The lese majeste case sparked a heated, critical debate on the relevance and political abuse of Article 112 or the lese majeste law and demands for its amendment.