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THAILAND: Trial of webmaster charged for computer crime resumes tomorrow

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is calling for court observers at the resumption of the trial of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, director of the Prachai website, who is being prosecuted under the Computer Crime Act after her arrest in March 2009. The trial of her case, after it was delayed for a variety of reasons, will again resume on February 14 to 16, 2012 at the Criminal Court in Bangkok.

The details about the schedule of trial and the witnesses on which the defense would be presenting are below:

Dates: 14-16 February 2012

Venue: At Court Room 910, the Criminal Court on Ratchadapisek Road, Bangkok

Witnesses for the defense:

1. Professor Sawatree Suksri, lecturer of the Faculty of Law, Department of Criminal Law at the Thammasat University. She is an expert on Computer Crime Law.

2. Professor Jittat Fakcharoenphol, Ph.D, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering, Kasetsart University. He is an expert on IT Technology

3. Doctor Kitibhoom Chutasmith, Director of Bhusing Hospital, Sri Sakhet Province. Prachatai Webboard user

4. Mr. Wanchat Bhadungrat, Founder of Pantip.com

5. Assistant Professor Pirongrong Ramasoota Rananan, Associate Dean, Department of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University. She is a scholar in Mass Media who researched on the Internet Content Regulations

For details about on which day these witnesses will be testifying:

14 February 2012 (whole day session)
Professor Sawatree, Professor Jittat and Doctor Kitibhoom

15 February 2012 (morning session)
Mr. Wanchat Bhadungrat

16 February 2012 (afternoon Session)
Assistant Professor Pirongrong

For those interested, the court's timetable usually runs 9am to 12am for morning sessions and 1pm to 4pm for afternoon sessions. Simultaneous interpretation will be also be made available for international observers. You can also contact Ms. Kheetanat Wannaboworn at KWANNABOWORN@gmail.com or call +84-899-0509 for more details on the prior arrangement you may require.

You can also read our previous appeals AHRC-FPR-006-2011, containing the details of the previous court trials; and our press release AHRC-PRL-008-2011, containing views and extracts of the report of Margaret Sekkaggya, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, regarding Chiranuch's case:

In her appeal calling for court observers, Chiranuch wrote:

"Three years, are the time I have to live my life being accused of committing a crime under Section 14 and 15 of the Computer Crime Act. Still, I have to continue a life like this without knowing an end. For all these time, I would like to thank you for your assistance, support and keen interest on the trial observation always.

The police arrested me at Prachatai Office on 6 March 2009 while the prosecutor filed the case to the Criminal Court on 31 March 2010. On the latter date, I was detained in the court basement for four hours before THB 300,000 bail was guaranteed by my sister’s career (she is a nurse in the government hospital) as an exchange for my contemporary release. The court then arranged a meeting on 31 May 2010 to investigate the witnesses, collect the evidence as well as decide on the hearing dates.

At first, the hearings were scheduled for eight consecutive days in February 2011 but could only continue for four days with five prosecutor witnesses’ presence. The rest of the witnesses said they were not available on the mentioned dates required the judges, prosecutors, and the lawyers’ team to set up a new hearing schedule from September to October 2011. Due to a large time gap; the composition of the judges in the second period were changed with regards to the annual shift occurred in the bureaucratic system.

In September, the hearings of the prosecutors’ witnesses were completed and the hearings of the Defense witnesses had started including that of myself. In October, massive flooding in Bangkok prevented the continual court trial, Mr. Danny O’Brien from Committee to Protect Journalists who was traveling all the way from San Francisco being the only witness allowed.

At the hearing, an interpreter provided by the court was unable to give an accurate interpretation. The lawyers’ team; as a result, was decided to submit the testimony written by Mr. O’Brien beforehand and would like to postponed the rest of the hearings to 14-16 February, 2012."

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