Energy activist gets suspended jail term for defaming PTT board member

The Court of Appeal has handed a nine month suspended jail term to the Facebook admin of a page campaigning for energy reform. He was accused of defaming a board member of a Thai petroleum giant.  

On 8 November 2016, Bangkok’s Southern Criminal Court read the Appeal Court’s verdict on the case between Piyasvasti Amranand, an executive board member of the PTT Public Co. Ltd. (a Thai state-owned SET-listed oil and gas company) and San Thanakornphakti, the admin of a Facebook page titled ‘Reclaiming Thai Energy’, according to iLaw.
Piyasvasti accused San of defaming him and his wife through the Facebook page, which alleged that Piyasvasti has indulged in corruption.
The Appeal Court confirmed the ruling of the lower court that originally sentenced San to nine months imprisonment with a 40,000 baht fine. It reasoned that the corruption allegation against Piyasvasti was false and that the Facebook message could damage the reputation of Piyasvasti and his wife and that.
The court concluded that though the accused has the right to freedom of expression, the execution of such rights should not have affected the reputation of others.
Amending the lower court’s earlier ruling, however, the Appeal Court suspended the jail term and reduced the fine to 30,000 baht. San also faces a charge under the Computer Crime Act under the PTT’s accusation.     
In another case, San stands accused by the PTT of violating Articles 326 and 228 of the Criminal Code (laws against criminal defamation) and Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act in posting 20 messages on Reclaiming Thai Energy’s Facebook page with references to the PTT.
Within this case, the Court of First Instance on 18 January 2016 sentenced San to 40 months imprisonment, but San later submitted an appeal request and was granted bail by the court. The case is now under the Appeal Court.