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Thai court acquits man accused of defaming king

Friday - 9/13/2013, 12:51am  ET

In this photo taken Sept. 10, 2013, Thanawat Martnok poses for photographer with the photo of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, top, displayed at his house in Bangkok, Thailand. After having quarreled with his younger brother Yuthapoom Martnok, Thanawat told police that Yuthapoom had defamed King Bhumibol, an accusation that should be punished up to 15 years behind bars. Yuthapoom was indicted on charges of “lese majeste” - insulting the royal family. Denied bail on national security grounds, he has been jailed for a year in a Bangkok prison where he is anxiously awaiting the court’s verdict Friday, Sept. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) -- A Thai court on Friday acquitted a man whose own brother accused him of defaming the country's monarch, an extraordinarily grave charge in this Southeast Asian kingdom punishable by up to 15 years in jail.

A judge who read out the verdict said there was not enough evidence to convict Yuthapoom Martnok. His brother Thanawat had been his only accuser, and other relatives had insisted Yuthapoom never insulted the crown.

Still, Yuthapoom was imprisoned for a year and denied bail on national security grounds. He will be freed later Friday.

Yuthapoom's wife, Jongkon Kongthin, welcomed the verdict but called the time apart from her husband "torture."

"We had to live without happiness," she said. "The court has mercy and this has proven that justice does prevail."

Critics said the case was worrying because it showed how easily Thailand's lese majeste laws could be abused.

The case was unusual not only because it pitted one brother's word against another, but because the alleged transgressions were said to have occurred in private, in their home.

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