THE Royal Thai Navy has been granted until October 30 to decide whether to appeal against a Phuket judge's verdict, delivered on September 1, that all charges against two Phuketwan journalists and the parent company, Big Island Media, should be dismissed. The normal period for lodging an appeal is 30 days.
PHUKET: The Royal Thai Navy is considering asking Phuket Provincial Court for extra time to consider whether to appeal the no-contest verdict in a criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act case against two Phuket journalists.
Just days earlier, the Navy indicated it was not planning to appeal the verdict. Officers have until 4pm on Friday to ask the court for an extra 30 days in which to consider an appeal.
A Navy source told Phuketwan yesterday that the extension could be sought because the incoming top echelon of officers in the Navy has yet to see the verdict.
A version of what the judge said in dismissing all charges on September 1, obtained by Phuketwan from Phuket Provincial Court last week, is attached to this article.
An English-language version is now being translated and will be posted at the earliest opportunity.
''A new Commander in Chief takes over the Royal Thai Navy from October 1,'' the online news site's editor, Alan Morison, said today.
Morison and reporter Chutima Sidasathian had been charged over a 41-word paragraph, reproduced on July 17, 2013, that quoted word for word a Reuters paragraph that later formed part of a Pulitzer Prize winning series on Rohingya boatpeople fleeing persecution in Burma (Myanmar.)
Although the words were typed by Reuters journalists, Reuters was not charged. Reuters also left the Phuketwan journalists without assistance or verbal support in defending Reuters' words.
'We have no problems with the Navy asking for an extension of time,'' Morison said. ''That is their right.
''But it might have been wiser for the old guard at the Navy to properly brief the new guard about the case and the dismissal of all charges.
''To seek an extra 30 days in which to consider whether to appeal could make it appear as if the Navy is unable to keep up with the daily news.
''The United Nations, the Prime Minister's office or the Department of Foreign Affairs could bring them up to date quickly.''
BAIL FOR Chutima Sidasathian and Alan Morison was provided by the Andaman Community Rights and Legal Aid Centre, based in Trang province. Most of the legal costs of the case are being met by the London-based Media Legal Defence Initiative.
In Thailand, a group of more than 10 lawyers teamed up to provide legal counsel. They include SR Law, the Human Rights Lawyers' Association and iLaw. They aim to now try to have the laws used against Phuketwan repealed.
WATCH the Dateline documentary
The Dateline documentary team from SBS Australia shared the three-day trial of Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian with participants for a show full of revealing insights.
WATCH Journey into Hell, by Four Corners
From Burma through Thailand, an award-winning current affairs team traces official complicity in the brutal treatment of the Rohingya and Phuketwan's part in its exposure.
WATCH How Trafficking Works
Phuketwan Investigative reporter Chutima Sidasathian says of traficking in 2014: ''It's worse and worse, day by day. Nobody cares''.
LISTEN The Rohingya Solution
A tragedy almost beyond words has been unfolding in Thailand, where a human smuggling network is thriving with the full knowledge of some corrupt law enforcement officers. Alan Morison of Phuketwan talks to Australia's AM program.