BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) Ä A Frenchman charged with insulting the Thai king was acquitted Wednesday after his lawyer said he was merely expressing anger at poor service on a Thai Airways flight.
Lech Tomacz Kisielewicz, 45, pleaded guilty in hopes of receiving a reduced sentence, but a three-judge panel said prosecutors failed to prove his words were meant as an insult to King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Thailand, whose citizens revere their royal family, prosecutes several people every year on charges of insulting them.
If convicted, Kisielewicz could have faced up to 15 years in prison.
Kisielewicz was accused of making insulting remarks aboard a Dec. 17 flight from London to Japan after flight attendants refused to turn up cabin lighting during breakfast. Thai Princess Somsawali and her daughter were aboard the flight.
Somlap Kittiyakorn, private secretary to the princess, said the Frenchman shouted criticism against the royal family, including the king.
His lawyer, Attiporn Ampawa, said he made his remarks due to fatigue and frustration with poor service on the flight.
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP)ÄA lawyer had just argued that his client was not likely to flee when the man bolted from the courtroom, leading deputies on a chase over rooftops and through town before being caught.
''I guess the irony is that he ran just as I was telling the judge he'd stay put,'' said A. Charles Peruto Jr., the attorney representing Howard ''Wing Ding'' Jones.
''Now his nickname is USAir,'' Peruto said.
Jones, 27, who had just been convicted of selling drugs to an undercover police officer, fled the courtroom Tuesday, springing down a corridor and out the front door.
''He hit those doors like a fullback,'' said Assistant District Attorney Edmund Campbell.
It happened moments after a judge raised his bail from $1,000 to $150,000, rejecting Peruto's argument that bail should be kept low because Jones was not likely to flee.
Police chased Jones through the streets, where he was spotted running on some rooftops, and captured him hiding under mattresses in the basement of a furniture store about 50 minutes after he fled.
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