THAILAND: Journalist trial over trafficking report opens– Two journalist will face on trial, charged for defaming Thai navy.
Thai navy filed criminal case against Alan Morison and his Thai colleague Chutima Sidasathian of the Phuketwan news website by publishing the article online.
The two journalist if found guilty could face up to two years in jail for criminal defamation and five years for violating Thailand’s Computer Crime Act in Phuket.
The said journalist posted on the website, alleging naval forces accepted money of refugees from Myanmar.
They speak to the media ahead of their appearance in court to face charges, defending their side.
Reuters news agency which said some Thai navy members were involved in trafficking Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar, July 2013.
Witnesses are expected to give testimony on Tuesday at Phuket Provincial Court on the southern island, verdict is due within 30 days.
According to Morison, “We do not understand why the military government has not withdrawn the case. The first pursuits against Reuters were dropped.
We quote exactly the same paragraph – (They are pursuing us) – for only one paragraph reproduced word-to-word from Reuters.” as speaking to AFP ahead of the trial.
A testimony from R.N. Pallop Komlotok, a navy captain, confirmed he filed defamation case on behalf of the navy, Siriwan Vongkietpaisan, a lawyer for the accused, told AFP.
“He also confirmed that the Phuketwan quotes were lifted from Reuters article,” she said.
United Nations Human Rights Office asked Thailand to drop the charges, Tuesday.
It said “Freedom of the press, including freedom for journalists to operate without fear of reprisals, is essential in promoting transparency and accountability on issues of public interest”. IMAGE CREDIT / AP, PRESS