There’s good news today. The Bangkok Post reports that Surapak Puchaisaeng, accused of lese majeste, has been acquitted by the court, “ruling that the prosecution had failed to prove its case.” Surapak joins a very small list – 5% of those charged – who are acquitted. The last person acquitted was yellow-shirt leader Sondhi Limthongkul, but for very different and politicized reasons.
Surapak stood accused of posting defamatory Facebook messages and was arrested in 1 September 2011 and denied bail since then.
The Criminal Court “was convinced that the HTML files were not cached when browsing Facebook but were pasted into Mr Surapak’s computer.” This suggests that the computer used as evidence was tampered with, probably by the police.
In our page on Surapak, we had noted that, while the newspaper accounts of the evidence were incomplete, there certainly appears to be little substantial evidence in this case. We added that we hoped Surapak would be one of those in the tiny 4-5% who get off lese majeste and computer crimes charges, but the recent behavior of the courts suggest that acquittal is unlikely. We hope we are wrong. We were wrong, and we are overjoyed that this case has been trashed by the court.
The Post notes the frame-up: “Asked if he would file a counter lawsuit against the people who framed him, [Surapak] said he would think about it first.” No doubt a year in jail on false charges is a bitter pill.
His aged mother Taem Phuchasaeng, 68, said: “It is a pity that certain other lese majeste defendants were not in a position to defend themselves. I was quite sorry, in particular, about the death of Ah Kong [Ampol Tangnopakul].”
The Post also reports that “Panitan Prueksakaemsuk, the son of another lese majeste defendant, Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, was among those who attended Wednesday’s court session. He said Mr Surapak’s victory might be a good example and comfort to other lese majeste defendants.” He added: “We just hope for a political solution for other lese majeste prisoners…”.
Update: It is worth viewing The Nation’s website for seemingly malicious reporting of this case. In its first account of the acquittal, The Nation states and headlines: “Red shirt leader acquitted” and adds: “The Criminal Court on Tuesday acquitted a red shirt leader in a lese majeste lawsuit, giving the benefit of the doubt to the defendant.” PPT has never before heard claims that Surapak is or was a red shirt leader. In the next story it has posted, by Pravit Rojanaphruk, the account appears more factual. We wonder what The Nation is up to?