The Appeals Court in Chiang Rai has sentenced Sondhi Limthongkul to one year in jail for defaming a forestry official. Sondhi has appealed to the Supreme Court and has been released on bail.
On 23 Dec, the Chiang Rai Appeals Court handed down its verdict on a defamation lawsuit lodged by Kengkaj Srihasan, Director of the Northern Section of Protection and Suppression under the National Parks Department, against Sondhi Limthongkul.
According to the plaintiff, on 22 Jan 2006, when the defendant delivered a public speech at Papongnok Temple, Ranong Province, he accused the plaintiff of bringing forestry officials to disrupt his speech at Lumpini Park in Bangkok and throwing firecrackers at the rally, causing injuries to two persons. The plaintiff argued that the thrower was someone else, and that person had already been fined by police.
In addition, the defendant also propagated this accusation through radio and the Manager website between 22 and 31 Jan 2006, effectively resulting in public resentment against the plaintiff.
On 7 March 2008, the Court sentenced Sondhi to one year’s imprisonment without suspension, under Section 326 of the Criminal Code, noting that he had repeatedly committed similar crimes, and ordered him to advertise his offence in 5 newspapers for 7 days. Sondhi appealed the case.
This time, the court ruled that Sondhi was guilty under Section 328 of the Criminal Code which penalizes those who defame others through any medium, and sentenced him to 1 and a half year’s imprisonment. However, the court commuted the sentence, for reasons not reported, to one year in jail without suspension, and reduced the newspaper advertisement to three days.
Sondhi appealed to the Supreme Court and was released on bail of 200,000 baht.