Tue, June 28, 2022

in-focus

Legal group defends journalist in trespass case


A journalist accused of trespassing on private property owned by a former police chief on Wednesday sought legal assistance from the Lawyer Council.

Natthaporn Weeranan, a reporter for the Isranews Agency, was charged after entering an apartment building belonging to Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan, former commissioner general of Royal Thai Police and younger brother of Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan.
An Isranews director, Prasong Lertratanawisute, went with Natthaporn to the Lawyer Council to seek legal help, claiming it was a case against press freedom.
Natthaporn visited the building in Bangkok’s Chatuchak district on August 9 to further his inquiries into the affairs of Patcharawat, who is under investigation by the National Anti-Corruption Commission. He was later arrested by Phahon Yothin Police.
The Lawyer Council’s vice chairman on legal assistance, Saowapak Sakulromwilart, said the Council had an agreement with the Thai Journalist Association to provide pro bono legal help in such cases. For the charge of trespass to be upheld, he said, police needed prove that the visit was made purely to cause trouble.
“Before undertaking such a case, we have to first consider the motive of the suspect,” Saowapak said. “It is clear the journalist went there to do his job, not to cause a disturbance. Police cannot claim this was trespass, especially since he was told to sit and wait, and did so.”
He said he was not worried that the plaintiff was a former police commissioner general and brother of a Deputy Prime Minister and stressed that it was every journalist’s right to do his duty.
“This is the first case of using a trespassing case against a journalist,” Saowapak added. “Most lawsuits against the media are defamation cases, so journalists should be careful when working in private properties, because they may violate the rights of the properties’ owner and can be charged for trespassing.”
Police have scheduled a further meeting with Nattaporn for September 1 after which they will decided to whether to pursue the case in court.

Published : August 23, 2017

By : Kittiphong Mareerit The Nation