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Phuket Military v Media Defamation Trial  Set for Hearing in March

Phuket Military v Media Defamation Trial Set for Hearing in March

Monday, May 26, 2014
PHUKET: Three days have been set aside in March to hear witnesses in a trial in which the Royal Thai Navy is suing two Phuket journalists using criminal defamation laws and the Computer Crimes Act.

A judge at Phuket Provincial Court today nominated March 18-20 for the case, the first time that a branch of Thailand's military has used the controversial computer law to sue a media organisation.

Lists of witnesses were exchanged today, with the Royal Thai Navy nominating four potential witnesses through the Phuket prosecutor and defence lawyers providing a total of 15 witnesses and 17 people who wished to make submissions.

After a brief debate, the judge accepted that witnesses who wish to give evidence on whether the computer law's use is appropriate in this case could remain on the list.

The case centres on the publication on the Phuketwan news site of a paragraph from a Reuters news agency special report on July 17 last year.

Phuketwan's parent company, Big Island Media faces charges with the two bylined authors of the Phuketwan article, Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian.

Khun Chutima faces a maximum of seven years in jail while Morison, as both an author and director of the company, faces 14 years.

Similar charges are also being processed against Reuters news agency and the two authors of the original Reuters special report on the Rohingya boatpeople, according to Phuket police.

The case against Reuters and the Reuters journalists is believed to concern the same paragraph.

The question of whether mediation might be possible was not raised today because the original document lodged with a local Phuket police station in December last year specified that the Royal Thai Navy wanted the laws to be enforced.

In Bangkok last week, talks between the two parties, to be mediated by the National Human Rights Commission, were cancelled at the last minute because of the military coup.

Legal costs of Big Island Media, Khun Chutima and Morison are being met by the London-based Media Legal Defence Initiative.

A group of lawyers have teamed up to provide legal counsel. They include the Human Rights Lawyers' Association, iLaw and SR Law.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Even a postponement is a small victory PW. Great. We need your up to the minute news. Next year is a long way away. Welcome back and keep us updated on the developments here please. I still hear many vehicles traveling in the Thalang and Srisonthorn areas at night, during the curfew hours. Are many people exempt from the curfew, or does it apply to everybody?

Posted by Robin on May 26, 2014 16:47

Editor Comment:

There may be an enforcement problem.


A lot can happen in 10 months. I am sure by March 2015 most of the media will be in the same boat.

Posted by Manowar on May 26, 2014 17:06

Editor Comment:

Let's not talk about boats, please, for today.


I can see this getting really ugly for Thailand. The last they want to do is to start a war on journalists, price will be heavy for a country that solely relies on foreign trade, exports and tourism. You are already on thin ice with present violations on human rights.

Posted by reader on May 26, 2014 17:36


This is good news I think as, hopefully, the Royal Thai Navy will come to its senses by next March.

Posted by Smithy on May 26, 2014 17:41


Great news! 10 months is a long time... I thought March was a typo!

Posted by J on May 27, 2014 11:44

Monday December 4, 2023
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