'Death island' defamation lawsuit is a farce

'Death island' defamation lawsuit is a farce

For referring factually to the name recently attached to the island by outsiders, the online newspaper faces bogus charges of defamation of the province, and under the Computer Crime Act.
For referring factually to the name recently attached to the island by outsiders, the online newspaper faces bogus charges of defamation of the province, and under the Computer Crime Act.

Seven dead tourists under dubious circumstances & police handling led to international notoriety to which defamation suit only adds.


'Death island' defamation lawsuit is a farce


Instead of encouraging concerted efforts from all sides to dig deeper for the truth surrounding the death of 30-year-old Belgian tourist Elise Dallemagne on Koh Tao, authorities in Surat Thani choose to proceed with a disgraceful act -- a lawsuit against a local English-language news website which broke the story.


Questions over the dubious circumstances of the death of Dallemagne on April 27 still linger due largely to hard-working local journalists at the Samui Times.

Authorities in the province, one of Thailand's key southern tourism hubs, on Tuesday decided to take legal action against the Samui Times.

Local authorities claim that the newspaper's news coverage is the "reporting of misinformation" which "caused misunderstanding" over safety on the island among tourists.

Local government officials have assigned Phangan district official Krerkkrai Songthani to file a libel suit and bring cyber crime charges against the news outlet at the Koh Tao police station.


This lawsuit threat against the messenger, whose reporting brought the case to light and prompted investigators from Bangkok to reopen the case wrapped up by the Koh Tao police, will not help boost confidence among tourists.

Nor will it help restore the reputation of the island.


This move is pure intimidation against the small media outlet.

It also undermines the public's right to know about what actually happened there.


During the past three years, seven tourists have died on the island while another has gone and remains missing.

These are facts that the public should be made aware of, whether or not they have an effect on local reputations.


True, the number of foreigner deaths there may not outdo other tourist destinations.

But several dubious circumstances surrounding these deaths and how the police handled the cases have given the island international notoriety.

Questions over the death of Dallemagne have been raised by her mother, Michele van Egten, who does not believe her daughter committed suicide by using a rope to hang herself as the police say.

The mother says the police have not given her a final autopsy report.

She still questions why her daughter's mobile phone, found next to her dead body, has gone missing and why her luggage showed up in Chumphon without her.


As police collect evidence and witness accounts on the island, provincial authorities and business operators there believe the online newspaper's reports and its use of the term "death island" hurt the island's reputation and can drive away tourists.

The term has, in fact, been previously used by many international media outlets.


Authorities and business operators should offer their version of information to the newspaper to correct their "misinformation", not a lawsuit.

They should rather offer help to the police to solve the case and, for example, urge local people to share information they have about the whereabouts of the Belgian tourist prior to her death.

They should have reviewed safety measures on the island and called for better protection for tourists.

But they should not do what they plan to do.


A lawsuit against the newspaper will be seen, domestically and internationally, as an effort to suppress facts from coming to light.

Bringing defamation and Computer Crime Act charges against journalists is a conventional and convenient avenue for authorities and individuals in Thailand to make it difficult for them to carry on with their investigative reporting.

Since watchdog journalism helps the public stay informed, this is a big step backwards.


In late 2013, the navy brought a lawsuit against Phuketwan journalists Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian for their reporting on human trafficking of Rohingya people.

They were acquitted in 2015.

More recently, a Phuket lawyer brought a case against Bangkok-based BBC correspondent Jonathan Head over his investigation into fraud on the island.

The Surat Thani authorities' lawsuit threat against the Samui Times is a window-dressing effort that cannot make the island less notorious for tourists as long as questions about this and other deaths and missing person cases remain unanswered.


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  • acquit: to state officially that someone is not guilty of the crime they were accused of - ตัดสินให้พ้นโทษ
  • acquittal: an official judgment in a court of law that someone is not guilty of the crime they were accused of - การตัดสินให้พ้นโทษ
  • act: an action - การกระทำ
  • assign: to give someone a job to do - มอบหมาย, สั่งงาน
  • authority (noun): a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
  • autopsy: a medical examination of a dead person’s body to find out why they died - การชันสูตรศพ
  • boost: to increase - เพิ่ม
  • broke the story: to be the first newspaper or media agency to provide a news story to the public -
  • brought to light: make known to the public -
  • carry on: to continue doing something - ดำเนินต่อไป
  • case: a matter that is being officially investigated, especially by the police - คดี
  • charge : an official statement accusing someone of committing a crime - ข้อกล่าวหา
  • circumstances (noun): facts or conditions that affect a situation - เหตุการณ์แวดล้อม
  • claim (noun): saying that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it - ข้ออ้าง ข้อกล่าวหา
  • collect (verb): to gather together a group/set/amount of things, often of the same sort - สะสม, เก็บรวบรวม
  • committed suicide: killed yourself - ฆ่าตัวตาย
  • concerted: involving a lot of people or organizations working together in a determined way - ที่กระทำร่วมกัน
  • concerted effort (noun): when people or organizations work together in a determined way to achieve their goals -
  • confidence: the quality of being certain - ความมั่นใจ
  • correspondent: a newspaper or television reporter, especially one who deals with a particular subject or area - นักข่าว
  • coverage: the reporting of news and sport in newspapers and on the radio, television or social media - การรายงานข่าว
  • cyber: connected with electronic communication networks, especially the Internet - ไซเบอร์, คำนำหน้าหมายถึงคอมพิวเตอร์
  • debate: a discussion in which people or groups state different opinions about a subject - การอภิปราย, การโต้วาที, การถกเถียง
  • defamation: the offence of writing or saying something bad about someone that is not true and makes people have a bad opinion of them - การใส่ร้าย
  • destination: the place where someone or something is going - จุดหมายปลายทาง
  • disgraceful: extremely bad or shocking - น่าสยดสยอง
  • domestically: within the country, i.e., not internationally - ภายในประเทศ
  • drive away: cause someone to escape - ขับไล่ไปให้พ้น
  • dubious: thought not to be completely true or not able to be trusted - อย่างสงสัย
  • dubious circumstances: a situation where something doesn’t seem to be right or proper -
  • effort: an attempt to do something - ความพยายาม
  • encourage: to cause someone to be more likely to happy - กระตุ้น
  • engage in: to take part in a particular activity - มีส่วนร่วมใน
  • evidence: facts statements or objects that help to prove whether or not someone has committed a crime - หลักฐาน
  • farce: a situation or event that is silly because it is very badly organised, unsuccessful, or unfair - เรื่องตลก
  • fraud: something (or someone) that deceives people by not being what it seems to be; bogus - ไม่แท้ การโกง การหลอกลวง
  • hang (verb): to kill somebody by tying a rope around their neck and allowing them to drop; to be killed in this way - ฆ่าด้วยการแขวนคอ
  • hub: the central and most important part of a particular place or activity - จุดศูนย์กลาง, จุดรวม
  • human trafficking: the trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others (Source: Wikipedia) - การค้ามนุษย์
  • instead (adv): in the place of somebody/something - แทน, แทนที่
  • internationally: connected with or involving two or more countries - นานาชาติ, สากล, ระหว่างประเทศ
  • intimidation: deliberately making someone feel frightened, especially so that they will do what you want - ขู่ขวัญ
  • investigation: the process of trying to find out all the details or facts about something in order to discover who or what caused it or how it happened - การสอบสวน, การตรวจสอบหาข้อเท็จจริง
  • investigative: involving the process of trying to find out all the details or facts about something in order to discover who or what caused it or how it happened - เกี่ยวกับการสืบสวน, เกี่ยวกับการตรวจสอบหาความจริง
  • investigator: someone whose job is to officially find out the facts about something - ผู้สอบสวน, ผู้สำรวจ, ผู้ตรวจสอบ
  • journalist: a person who writes news stories or articles for a newspaper or magazine or broadcasts them on radio or television - ผู้สื่อข่าว
  • key: very important - ที่สำคัญ
  • largely (adverb): mostly -
  • lawsuit: a case that a court is asked to decide involving a disagreement between two people or groups - คดีที่ยื่นฟ้องต่อศาล
  • legal: relating to the law or lawyers - เกี่ยวกับกฎหมาย
  • libel: involving the act of printing a statement about somebody that is not true and that gives people a bad opinion of them - เป็นการหมิ่นประมาท,เป็นการใส่ร้าย
  • linger: to stay somewhere longer than is necessary or required - อ้อยอิ่ง
  • local: in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about - ท้องถิ่น
  • luggage (noun): baggage; all the cases and bags that you take with you when you travel - กระเป๋าเดินทาง
  • measures (noun): actions taken to solve a particular problem - มาตรการ
  • media outlet: an organisation that reports new, provides entertainment, etc., e.g. a radio station, TV channel, etc. - สื่อ
  • messenger: a person (or thing) who delivers information to people - ผู้ส่งสาส์น, ผู้ส่งข่าว
  • misinformation: wrong information about something - การให้ข้อมูลผิดๆ
  • misunderstanding: a situation in which a comment, an instruction, etc. is not understood correctly - ความเข้าใจผิด
  • notoriety: the state of being famous for something bad - ชื่อเสียงในทางที่ไม่ดี
  • notorious: famous for something bad - ซึ่งมีชื่อเสียงในทางไม่ดี
  • officials: people who have the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
  • operators (noun): people or companies that run a business - ผู้ดำเนินกิจการทางธุรกิจ, ผู้ประกอบธุรกิจ
  • outdo (verb): to be better than someone else at doing something ("not to be outdone" is used for saying that someone is trying to prove that they can do something as well as or better than someone else) - ทำดีกว่า, เอาชนะ, พิชิต
  • outlet (noun): a business broadcasting the content of a particular producer - ช่อง
  • previously: before -
  • prior to: before - ก่อนหน้า
  • prompt: to cause someone to take action - กระตุ้น
  • protection: the act of protecting somebody/something; the state of being protected - การอารักขา, การปกป้อง
  • province: one of many divisions of the government of a country into smaller parts - จังหวัด
  • provincial (adj): related to "provinces" , the different parts of a country - ประจำจังหวัด, ส่วนท้องถิ่น
  • public: open to people in general - สาธารณะ
  • pure: with nothing else added or included - โดยตรง
  • recently (adverb): not long ago - เมื่อไม่นานมานี้, เมื่อเร็วๆ นี้
  • reputation: the opinion people have about how good or bad someone or something is - ชื่อเสียง
  • restore: to bring back to good condition - ฟื้นฟูสภาพ
  • review: the process of studying or examining a situation, policy, or idea again in order to decide whether it is suitable or satisfactory - การทบทวน
  • rope (noun): very strong thick string made by twisting thinner strings, wires, etc. together - เชือก
  • share: to have or use something at the same time as someone else - ใช้ร่วมกัน
  • solve: to find the correct answer or explanation for something - หาคำตอบได้
  • suicide: the action of deliberately killing yourself - การฆ่าตัวตาย
  • suit (noun): lawsuit; a case that a court is asked to decide involving a disagreement between two people or groups - คดีที่ยื่นฟ้องต่อศาล คดีที่อยู่ในระหว่างการฟ้องร้อง
  • surrounding: to be closely connected with a situation or an event - เชื่อมต่อกัน เกี่ยวข้องกับ
  • truth: what is actually the situation; not lies or misrepresentations - ความจริง
  • undermine: to make someone become gradually less effective, confident, or successful - บ่อนทำลาย
  • urge: to advise someone very strongly about what action or attitude they should take - ผลักดัน, กระตุ้น
  • version: a particular form of something which varies slightly from other forms of the same thing - ชุด, เวอร์ชั่น
  • whereabouts: where someone is - ที่อยู่,สถานที่,ตำแหน่งที่
  • wrapped up: finished -
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