Court accepts libel suit against Thai surrogate

Court accepts libel suit against Thai surrogate

Spanish-American same sex couple Manuel Valero (left) and Gordon Lake with baby Carmen outside the Central Juvenile and Family Court last year. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Spanish-American same sex couple Manuel Valero (left) and Gordon Lake with baby Carmen outside the Central Juvenile and Family Court last year. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The Criminal Court on Thursday accepted a libel suit filed by an American-Spanish same-sex couple, who are fighting for custody of their surrogate baby, against the Thai surrogate mother and her legal adviser.

The suit names Patidta Kusolsang, who gave birth to a girl named Carmen who is now 15 months old, as the first defendant, and Weeruthai Maneenutnet, as the second defendant. 

It alleges that Ms Patidta and Ms Weeruthai gave an interview on a Channel 3 TV show which aired on July 21 and 22 accusing American Gordon Lake and his Spanish husband Manuel Valero of being part of a human trafficking network.

The surrogate and her legal aide face defamation charges under Sections 326 and 328 of the Criminal Code and Section 14 (1) of the Computer Crimes Act which deals with “false data” that damages a third party.

Sections 326 and 328 carry imprisonment not exceeding two years and a fine of up to 20,000 baht. 

The court said there was prima facie evidence of the defendants committing criminal defamation but dropped the charge of violating the computer crimes act because of lack of evidence.

Testimony from both sides is scheduled to begin on May 23. 

Speaking through an interpreter, Mr Valero said he was happy with the court’s decision and will consult with their lawyer if they should refile the charge related to the computer offences.

Mr Valero and Mr Lake, both 41, have been trapped in Thailand for the past 14 months as they are locked in a legal battle for custody of Carmen after Ms Patidta refused to sign the documents required to permit them to leave Thailand with the baby girl.

Last year, the couple filed a case with the Central Juvenile and Family Court under the new surrogacy act, asking it to order that Carmen be recognised as their legitimate daughter.

The court will rule on Tuesday, April 26 on the custody rights of Carmen. 

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