The Court of Appeals on Tuesday slapped a suspended fourmonth jail sentence and a Bt2,000 fine on former Democrat Party secretarygeneral Suthep Thaugsuban for defaming former Thai Rak Thai executive Prommin Lertsuridej.
The court overturned the Criminal Court’s decision to acquit Suthep in a case related to the April 2, 2006 general election.
The Appeals Court also reminded Suthep as a senior politician to be cautious when making a public statement.
Prommin filed a lawsuit with the Criminal Court naming the Democrat Party, Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, then Democrat secretarygeneral Suthep and then Democrat spokesman Ongart Klampaibool as the first, second, third and fourth defendants respectively.
The suit alleged that Suthep held a press conference on March 16 to allege that an influential group was interfering in the holding of the April 2 election.
The Criminal Court acquitted the four defendants on the grounds that Suthep had a witness who testified that he overheard Prommin saying small parties were hired to contest the election.
But the Appeals Court ruled that Suthep should have backed up his press conference with facts instead of using hearsay that damaged the reputation of Prommin.
The Appeals Court acquitted the Democrat Party, Abhisit and Ongart on the grounds that they did not take part in the press conference.
Initially, the Appeals Court sentenced Suthep to six months in jail and a Bt3,000 fine but commuted the penalties by one third on the grounds that his testimony was useful for the trial.
The court suspended the jail term for one year and ordered Suthep to publish the ruling on Page 1 or Page 3 of the Daily News, Thai Rath and Matichon for three days.