SUPREME COURT RULING
Filming 'damaged beach'
DiCaprio movie 'destroyed part of environment'; orders issued for damages
The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the verdict of the appeal court that the filming of the controversial Hollywood movie "The Beach" on Maya Beach, Phi Phi Leh Island, seven years ago, had destroyed part of the environment and asked the primary civil court to make damage assessments.
The case was filed in January 1999 by Krabi Provincial Administration Organisation and the Ao Nang Tambon Administration Organisation (TAO) and several environment groups against five defenders involved in giving permission for The Beach to be filmed on Maya Beach in 1998.
They claimed the permission violated the Environmental Protection Act and the National Parks Act.
The plaintiffs had asked the court for suspension of the filming and to order the defenders to repair the environment on Maya Beach.
The five defendants were Pongpol Adireksarn, the then Agricultural minister, the Royal Forestry Department (RFD), Plodprasop Suraswadi, then director-general of RFD, Santa International Film Production, representative of 20th Century Fox in Thailand, and 20th Century Fox.
The primary civil court rejected the lawsuit in March of the same year, reasoning that the filming was complete.
The appeal court, however, ruled in 2002 that the filming had damaged Maya Beach, which is part of Nopparat-Thara and Phi Phi Island Marine National Park.
It also ordered Santa International Film Production and the 20th Century Fox to repair the environment on Maya, which was landscaped for filming.
After the Supreme Court gave its verdict, the primary civil court yesterday said the hearing for damage assessment would start on January 17.
Phankham Kittithornkul, president of Ao Nang TAO, said he was ready for the hearing. Photographs showing Maya Beach before and during the filming would be submitted to the court as evidence, he said.
The filming of "The Beach", which starred Hollywood heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio, became controversial when the RFD allowed the film production company to alter sand dunes, and uproot coconut trees and grass to widen the beach.
The RFD asked the film company to deposit Bt100 million as bond for damages. The bond, according to the RFD at that time, was returned to the production company after the filming was finished.