Chanchai found guilty of defamation

Chanchai found guilty of defamation

The Criminal Court on Thursday handed down a suspended prison sentence to Chanchai Isarasenarak, a former deputy chairman of a subcommittee on corruption with the defunct National Reform Steering Assembly, for defaming King Power Co and four other companies in the group.

The court found Chanchai guilty of defamation when he spoke to a press conference in parliament on June 8, 2016 accusing King Power Suvarnabhumi Co of signing an "invalid" contract with Airports of Thailand (AoT) which according to him had resulted in about 20 billion baht in losses.

According to Chanchai, it wasn't King Power Suvarnabhumi Co that won the bidding for a concession to operate commercial activities at Suvarnabhumi, but King Power International Co, which made the signed contract invalid. However, King Power International Co had, in fact, informed the AoT in advance that if it won the bidding it would set up a new company, which in this case was King Power Suvarnabhumi Co, to operate the business on its behalf.

The court found that Chanchai, as the deputy chairman of a subcommittee on corruption, didn't have the authority to disclose such information to the public despite his claim that he had informed the committee chairman of the disclosures. According to the ruling, informing the chairman that he would disclose the information at a press conference did not mean the chairman gave the approval to act on his behalf.

The court sentenced him to eight years in prison and ordered him to pay for the costs of publishing this ruling in five English and Thai newspapers.

The court, however, resolved to have the prison sentence suspended for two years given the fact that Chanchai had not had any record of facing a prison sentence before and his intention of addressing the June 8, 2016 press conference apparently was to protect the nation's interest.

Chanchai insisted on appealing against the ruling, while Bancha Poramisanaphon, a lawyer representing King Power Group Co thanked the court for yesterday's ruling.

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