Ekkachai-Chokchai sued for defaming military

Col Burin Thongprapai, the legal officer of the NCPO, has sued Ekkachai Hongkangwan and Chokchai Paibulratchata, political activists, for defaming the Thai military by saying that the Thai military lost to Lao PDR forces in 1988 and displaying protest signs in front of the Royal Thai Army Headquarters.

Source: Banrasdr Photo

On 22 January 2019, Col Burin Thongprapai filed a lawsuit against Ekkachai Hongkangwan at the Technology Crime Suppression Division for posting false information on Facebook which may threaten national security or lead to panic in the public, Thairath Online reported.

On 15 January 2019, Ekkachai posted “On the Rom Klao battlefield, Thailand lost the war with Lao and ceded the territory of Rom Klao village (Phitsanulok Province). Since World War II, the Thai army has never won a single war. The Thai military is only good at staging coups and bullying weaker people.” 

The post, the NCPO claims, is false, threatens national security, or causes panic in the general public, an offence under Article 14 (2) of Thailand's 2017 Computer Crime Act. If convicted, Ekkachai faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in jail and/or a 100,000 baht fine.  

Ekkachai is not the first victim. According to iLaw, at least 5 cases have been prosecuted under Article 14(2) since the law came into effect. The 2017 Computer Crime Act has been instrumental in suppressing freedom of expression in online platforms, especially in the case of those who criticize the government. Public panic, for example, is difficult to prove on a legal basis. 

In a separate case, Col Burin also filed a lawsuit against Ekkachai and Chokchai Paibulratchata, also an activist, for conspiracy to defame after Ekkachai and his followers went in front of the Royal Thai Army Headquarters to record a video with insulting messages. 

The Colonel insists on prosecuting the alleged damage to the Royal Thai Army to the full extent of the law.