Mining firm seeking to sue schoolgirl, 15

national December 15, 2015 01:00

By Boonchu Sritraipop,
Kawintra

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Gold miner claims that a TV report she was involved in is libellous



THE Community Resources Centre (CRC) is trying to help a 15-year-old schoolgirl out of legal trouble, after she participated in a TV citizen reporter scheme that stirred legal action from a mining firm.

Wanpen Khunna, a Mathayom 4 student in Loei province, has allegedly been targeted in the planned defamation lawsuit.

Thung Kham Ltd, which operates a gold mine in Loei’s Wang Saphung district, has been seeking permission from the Loei Juvenile Observation and Protection Centre to bring the lawsuit against Wanpen to court.

However, under current laws no one can take a criminal lawsuit against a minor without prior permission from a relevant juvenile observation and protection centre.

“Her interview is libellous to our firm,” Thung Kham Ltd said in its letter to the centre.

The Loei Juvenile Observation and Protection Centre has summoned Wanpen and her parents to testify on December 21 to determine if there is grounds for the firm to sue her.

“When I first received the summons, I was shocked. I didn’t know what to do,” Wanpen said.

Her mother said she was worried because none of her family members had ever been in legal trouble before. She admitted that she had wept at times about the legal threat. Indeed the mother has now said she doesn’t want her daughter joining any more extracurricular activities.

Wanpen joined camp activities between August 28 and 30 this year, during which she helped with the production of a TV report. ThaiPBS aired it on September 1.

According to Thung Kham Ltd, Wanpen said, “Huai River is affected by gold-mining industry. The river is now contaminated, thus not drinkable anymore” in the report.

Sor Rattamanee Phonkla, CRC coordinator and lawyer, revealed yesterday that she had already talked to Wanpen over the phone.

“On Saturday, our lawyer will also visit her in her hometown to provide guidance,” she said.

Sor Rattamanee said the TV “scoop” in fact focused on community rights and was largely not specific about her allegations.

In Loei, many local people have expressed moral support for the girl.

One of them disclosed that the mining firm had sued several locals already after they campaigned about community rights.

A representative of Rak Ban Kerd Group said his group would go along with Wanpen to the Loei Juvenile Observation and Protection Centre on December 21 in order to provide moral support.

Thung Kham Ltd has already filed suit against Thai PBS and related figures over the report, seeking compensation of some Bt50 million. The Criminal Court is scheduled to hear that matter on March 21.

 

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