A provincial court has dismissed a defamation case filed by a mining company against a newspaper who reported on its environmental abuses, after realising that an identical case is already being heard in another province.
On 12 June 2017, the Roi Et Provincial Court ruled to dismiss a defamation case submitted by the mining company Myanmar Phongpipat against Pratch Rujivanarom, a journalist from The Nation newspaper, and the newspaper itself.
The dismissal came after the defendant’s lawyer Sor Rattanamanee Polkla pointed out in court that Myanmar Phongpipat already filed the exact same charges against Pratch and the Nation to Nakhon Pathom Provincial Court on 20 March 2017.
The Roi Et Provincial Court subsequently ruled to dismiss the case within its jurisdiction, reasoning that filing an identical case twice is impermissible under Thailand’s Criminal Procedure Code.
In both courts, Myanmar Phongpipat accused Pratch and the Nation of violating Articles 59, 83, 91, 326 and 328 of the Criminal Code (which deal with defamation) and Article 14 of the Computer Crimes Code.
According to Rattanamanee, the ruling confirms that there is no place in the justice system for lawsuits intended to suppress media and the rights of villagers.
However, Myanmar Phongpipat’s original defamation case against Pratch and the Nation will continue in the Nakhon Pathom Provincial Court.
The case revolves around Myanmar Phongpipat’s accusations that The Nation’s article, ‘Thai Mines Destroy Water Resources in Myanmar’, contains false allegations that the company’s tin mine is contaminating local water supplies.
The court has scheduled a preliminary inquiry into the charges for 17 July, since the mining company has rejected the option of mediation.
If found guilty, Pratch could be sentenced to up to five years in jail, or a 200,000 baht fine, or both.
Pratch Rujivanarom, a journalist from the Nation Multimedia Group
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