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Court clears Chavanont of libel charges

Posted by pakin On March - 17 - 2015

The Criminal Court yesterday acquitted Democrat Party spokesman Chavanont Intarakomalyasut for libelling then-prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra in relation to her meeting with businessmen at a Bangkok hotel.

In her suit, Yingluck said that from February 19-21, 2013, Chavanont, 39, gave a press conference that accused her of skipping a Parliamentary session to discuss private business with a group of leading executives and business owners.

The media headlines from Chavanont’s press conference led the public to believe that Yingluck had committed policy corruption, had a conflict of interest or exercised favouritism towards a business group in appraising land values.

Chavanont fought the charges.

The court said Yingluck met with five businessmen at the Four Seasons Hotel, and though the meeting was not secret, no details were released.

At that time, the Cabinet and Yingluck had postponed the restructuring of land assessment and urban planning.

Although she said she had held the meeting to hear business opinions on the issue, the court pointed out that the meeting had only a small group of people attending even though the issue affected the entire country.

There was no similar meeting with other major business organisations and details were not disclosed to outsiders.

The court said the defendant was performing his duty as a member of the opposition and had grounds to doubt the meeting. Though the defendant may have defamed the plaintiff during his press conference, he had the country’s interest in mind.

Chavanont said he hopes this court ruling would set a precedent for future opposition camps in carrying out their checks and balances duties. If they do their work on the basis of protecting the public interest, the court would protect them, he said.

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