Court acquits Watana on charge of computer crime

Court acquits Watana on charge of computer crime

Ex-Pheu Thai MP Watana Muangsook (left) arrives at the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court  for his arraignment on April 25. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
Ex-Pheu Thai MP Watana Muangsook (left) arrives at the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court for his arraignment on April 25. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

The Southern Bangkok Criminal Court on Monday acquitted former Pheu Thai MP Watana Muangsook of a charge of computer crime brought against him by the army over comments posted online critical of the military government.

The case centred on the 58 year-old former commerce minister’s comments posted on Facebook on March 1-2 alleging the military regime would not relinquish power and would dodge any scrutiny of its use of power.

The army filed a complaint against him with Nang Loeng police. Prosecutors on April 19 indicted him on a charge of violating the computer crime law.

He was due to report to the court on April 20, but could not do so as he was being detained at an army camp in Kanchanaburi for criticising the draft charter.

He appeared in court on April 25, and was released on bail on the condition he not leave the country without permission.

The court on Monday ruled in favour of Mr Watana, saying he had expressed his opinion in good faith. 

Lawyers Council president Narinpong Jinapak, who accompanied Mr Watana to the court,  said the bench ruled that his client had not disseminated false information over the internet as charged, because expressing an opinion was an individual’s fundamental right. 

Mr Narinpong said he did not know if the prosecution would appeal the judgement. They have 30 days to file an appeal.

Mr Watana is a key member of  Pheu Thai and staunch critic of the regime. He has been detained numerous times for speaking his mind, including criticising the draft charter. 



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