Criminal court accepts defamation charge involving ex-President of Supreme Administrative Court

The Criminal Court has accepted a criminal defamation charge filed against a law academic for allegedly defaming a former President of the Supreme Administrative Court.

The prosecutor at Bangkok’s Ratchada Criminal Court on Thursday indicted Phuttipong Ponganekgul, a law academic and part time lecturer at Siam and Kasetsart universities in Bangkok, for allegedly posting defamatory pictures and messages on the internet against Hatsawut Widitwiriyakun, a former President  of the Supreme Administrative Court.

After the indictment, the criminal court accepted the charge against Phuttipong and he was briefly detained at the court. The defendant was, however, granted 12,000 baht bail after submitting a certification letter from an insurance company as security.

The Criminal Court has scheduled a conciliation appointment between the plaintiff and the accused on 14 May 2015.  

In November 2013, Phuttipong posted two pictures of Hatsawut on his Facebook profile. The first picture depicts Hatsawut touching the head of a female individual while seemingly chanting words with his eyes closed. The second picture shows Hatsawut performing similar gestures with a monk, but touching the hand of the clergyman instead of the head.        

Under the pictures Phuttipong wrote “Hatsawut Widitwiriyakun, the President of the Supreme Administrative Court, is using magic to cure diseases and blow away bad spirits from [Buddhist] monks and villagers who believe in him; during this time [the bad spirits] are howling in the countryside.”

Below the picture caption, he also posted the content of Article 21 of the 1999 Act on the Establishment of the Administrative Courts and Administrative Court Procedures, which states that Administrative Court judges must vacate office upon developing a disease or having a physical or mental condition which is unsuitable for the post.

Hatsawut filed a complaint against Phuttipong in November 2013 under Article 328 of the Criminal Code and Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act.

Article 328 of the Criminal Code stipulates that persons who defame others by means of documents, publications, drawings, paintings, films, pictures or by any other means are liable to two years’ imprisonment while Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Code prohibits the importation of illegal content into a computer system.

Hatsawut was suspended from his post last month after he was allegedly involved in assisting a former Secretary-General of the Administrative Court in an attempt to unlawfully promote a high ranking police officer.

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