Five Thais – four men and a boy – have been arrested and are in military detention for allegedly burning a photo of the late king Bhumibol Adulyadej in the north-eastern province of Khon Kaen, local police told dpa on Sunday.
The five – two 20-year-olds, two 18-year-olds and one 14-year-old – were arrested Friday in Khon Kaen, 450 kilometres north-east of Bangkok, after they were found to have set a large photo of the late king ablaze, police said.
The photo, around two metres tall, was one of countless photos of the late king put up across the country in his honour.
All five suspects confessed to the arson, saying they were hired for around 300 baht (9 dollars) each by a local businessman, police said. They were transferred to the 11th Army Circle base in Bangkok soon after their arrest.
“It is a matter of national security and it is out of our hands now,” a police officer said.
Authorities have launched a manhunt for Preecha Ngamdee, the 45-year-old the suspects named as having hired them.
No charges have been filed yet against any of the suspects, police said.
Thailand’s strict lese-majesty law prohibits criticism, defamation and insults against the royal family. Since coming into power in a May 2014 coup, the military government has arrested more than 100 people for alleged lese-majesty offences.
If found guilty of royal insults, the men could face up to 15 years in prison.(dpa/NAN)