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An environmentalist has been given a one-year suspended jail term because of a Facebook post criticising a coal ash project.
On Thursday, 17 March 2016, Nakhon Si Thammarat Provincial Court sentenced Kumpol Jittanang, a marine environmentalist and coordinator of the Disaster Management Centre, Nakhon Si Thammarat, to one year in jail after finding him guilty of defaming an academic. The court also fined him 40,000 baht, iLaw reported.   
In October 2014, Payom Rattanamanee, an Assistant Professor at Prince of Songkla University, charged Kumpol under the defamation laws and Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act, over a Facebook post in which Kumpol accused Payom of a conflict of interest in a project to plant artificial coral made from coal ash near the Nakhon Si Thammarat coast.  
Kampol campaigned against the project, reasoning that the coal ashes itself is harmful to marine ecosystem. 
According to iLaw, Kumpol intends to appeal but has to discuss this with his legal team first.  
Kampol told iLaw in an interview that, the lawsuit rarely affects his career but he is indirectly forced to stop all environmentalist works. 
During trial, he decided to stop his environment works to avoid further charges, as his lawyer suggested that the court might perceive him as a troublemaker if he continued. He also had to change his haircut just to look credible on the trial, iLaw reported. 
(Photo curtesy of iLaw)
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