More on Surapak’s lese majeste acquittal

As PPT posted earlier, Surapak Puchaisaeng was acquitted on lese majeste and Computer-related Crime Act 2007 charges last Wednesday. Prachatai now has two stories worth reading on the case.

The first is a translation of the court’s verdict. Amongst other things, this paragraph is stunning:

The court has to take into account the credibility of how the original data was preserved, because each start-up of the computer results in certain automatic changes and data can be easily altered or modified.  It appears that after the defendant was detained and his notebook computer was seized by the police, the computer was started up on 2 September 2011 at 20.13.44 hrs and on 7 September 2011 at 21.12.07 hrs, before the computer was sent to the forensic police officer for examination, and this could allow modifications of the data of the seized computer.  Therefore, the results of the examination of the computer are flawed and unreliable, and it cannot be clearly concluded that the data pertaining to the use of the email account dorkao@hotmail.com and Facebook account ‘I shall reign by staging coups’ results from the use of the defendant’s notebook computer.

The evidence suggests that the police or others tried to frame Surapak.

The second story is an interview with Surapak’s lawyer, “Thitipong Srisaen, aka “Attorney Siang”. Experienced in intellectual property rights cases, Thitipong took this case, his first involving national security and a highly sensitive issue. He shares with us his experience in this landmark case.” He adds that: “In the past two years, I have handled many of the red-shirt cases; many of my clients are just grassroots villagers, not the core members, who have been prosecuted for violating the Emergency Decree.” He came to Surapak’s case as a red shirt lawyer supporting a fellow red shirt.

Thitipong notes one of the difficulties associated with lese majeste cases where the defendants are repeatedly denied bail:

It would have been much more convenient if Surapak had been temporarily released. The accused is a computer expert. But because he was held in custody, he could only explain to me through the iron bars and had no chance to demonstrate to me using a real computer. He simply told me the data (found in his laptop computer) had been fabricated. But at first I had no idea how it had been fabricated. Without a support team, I had to do the research myself. Experts were reluctant to give me any help.

Further, he criticizes the lese majeste law:

The crux of the matter is that it is too easy to report someone. It is so easy to initiate a lèse majesté case invoking Section 112. In the case against Surapak, someone reported to the police about an allegedly lèse majesté Facebook page. That person insisted that Surapak was the owner of the Facebook page and he was the “Mr. Manachai” whose name appeared on the Facebook page. The police simply pursued the case based on this claim and had never made any attempt to investigate further who the owner of the Facebook page really was.

And he explains that, from the very day of Surapak’s arrest, the police fabricated and concocted the case:

On the day they came to Surapak’s house, the officials had only a search warrant, no arrest warrant. They could not arrest him instantly since he had not committed any flagrant offence. But they asked Surapak to write down on a piece of paper the password of the Facebook page. Surapak did not understand, but he did write down the password of his computer. Then, the police took the piece of paper as evidence and submitted it to the Court to apply for an arrest warrant.

Finally, the personal impact on Surapak is mentioned, noting that he has been in jail for a long time and repeatedly refused bail, as well as “prejudged” by “society”:

Look at what Surapak suffered over the past one year in jail. Nothing can sufficiently compensate him. Nothing can heal the damage he suffers from his loss of time, career, etc.

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