Gaol suspended for Democrat libel conviction-Nation

October 30, 2010

Democrat MP gets suspended jail term for libel

The Nation: October 19, 2010


The Criminal Court on Tuesday found Democrat MP Watchara Petthong guilty of defamation before handing down suspended jail term, a damage payment of Bt300,000 and a fine of Bt30,000.


The litigation stemmed from Watchara’s newspaper column portraying Jitra Techachan as using her husband’s influence to secure the appointment as director of Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion Office in 2007.


Watchara wrote his column under the penname “Lak Chai” in Naew Na newspaper.


He alleged Jitra got her job because of her husband Sak Techachan, the judge who sided with the majority opinion to acquit the then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in the asset concealment case in 2001.


In its ruling, the court said Watchara committed three counts of libel, each of which punishable by a jail term of six months.


It then found ground for leniency as Watchara was a first time offender. The imprisonment was suspended but he had to pay the fine and the cost of publishing the verdict in Naew Na for three consecutive days.


Watchara and the newspaper were jointly responsible to pay Jitra for damage plus interest accrued at 7.5 per cent.


The conviction for libel does not impact on Watchara’s job status as MP.


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