Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sondhi Limthongkul Gets Two Years for Defaming Thai Rak Thai Official

Anti-Thaksin activists gets 2 years for defamation

(, Agencies)Media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul was sentenced to two years imprisonment Thursday by the Criminal Court after being convicted of defaming a former Thai Rak Thai party official.[Late news: Sondhi was released on bail-bond insurance of 200,000 baht, after the court that convicted him ordered him to serve his jail sentence immediately.]

Mr Phumtham charged that Sondhi had gone too far with a personal attack that breached Thai etiquette by dragging the monarchy into political disputes. He also said that many prominent figures who were students in the 1970s had joined the revolutionary struggle against the military dictatorship of the time.

The judge also rejected a defence request to suspend the sentence, and Sondhi said he would appeal the case.

The court initially denied a request for bail and ruled that Sondhi, a leader of last year's campaigns against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, must go to prison to begin serving the jail term immediately.

Sondhi and Co, producer of the popular Muang Thai Rai Sapda cable television programme moderated by Sondhi, were also fined 200,000 baht for the offence they committed against Phumtham Wechayachai, former minister of the Thaksin regime.

The offence took place on November 25, 2005, during a television programme conducted by Sondhi who accused Phumtham of being a former communist and of not respecting the monarchy.

Eight other co-defendants who are executives of the Manager Group and who were charged on the same offence were acquitted.

"The court found that the defendant wanted to make the public believe that (Phumtham) was a communist and did not respect the monarchy, which is not true," according to the verdict read aloud in court.

Sondhi, whose Manager Media Group owns several magazines, websites and film production houses, said he planned to appeal.

Sondhi later said that he would appeal against the verdict and would ask for bail.

"I respect the court ruling," he told reporters. "But I will appeal the case, and if I lose then I will go to the Supreme Court."

Phumtham said he was pleased to have his name cleared.

"I am happy with the court ruling, which proves that what the defendant accused me of is not true," he told reporters.

As long as there are these stupid defamation and lese mejeste laws, there will never be free speech in Thailand.


Patiwat said...

Sondhi is lucky - the lese majeste charges against him were dropped by the junta.

It's interesting to speculate how Sondhi would have reacted to this ruling if Thaksin were still in charge. Surely he would pay his bail, fly to China, and organize his yellow shirts to protest the "corruption" of the court.

fall said...

"Anti-Thaksin activists"?
What happen to the "Media Mogul" headline?
I kinda like that.

I seriously doubt the lese majeste charge was dropped due to "luck".

Thai court might be screw, but wont say I would shred a single tear for the guy. Let see if other more reasonable cases catch up to him, seem he had a lot line up in court. May be a special amnesty clause in new constitution?