Witness insists prachatai.com director guilty

Pravit Rojanaphruk, The Nation

Prosecution witness Pol Lieutenant Boonlert Kalayanamitr told the court yesterday that prachatai.com director Chiranuch Premchaiporn had indeed committed a crime by not removing alleged lese majeste remarks posted by others on the site’s bulletin board.

“We notified [Chiranuch] about the comments found on the website, and this is already an offence” under the Computer Crimes Act, Boonlert, the last witness from the prosecution side, told the two presiding judges. He added that the 10 “defamatory remarks” were visible on prachatai.com for 11 days.

Boonlert, who led the police investigation team, said Chiranuch was “very cooperative” when she was asked for the IP addresses of the people who anonymously posted the messages. Only one user’s IP address was tracked down and police could not trace the rest because Internet shops only retain the information of users for a maximum of 90 days.

The single IP address found was traced to Jiraphan Charoenphon, who was acquitted by the court because there was no evidence that she had used the computer, which was in her parents’ factory and could be accessed by others.

After testifying in court, Boonlert told reporters that there were many cases still being pursued, but wanted the subject dropped, “because giving interviews will affect the security and the Crown. It’s dangerous.”

Chiranuch faces 20 years in prison if found guilty.

Sarinee Achavanuntakul, a key member of the Thai Netizen Network (TNN) who observed the hearing yesterday, said the ruling would likely be based on the role and responsibility of an intermediary – Chiranuch in this case – which would then be interpreted under the Computer Crimes Act’s Article 15.

When asked if not removing the posts quickly enough was tantamount to consent, Sarinee said: “It’s still a point of contention as to what constitutes consent.”

She added that further crackdowns on lese majeste offenders would likely continue, especially “under a climate where all [political groups] are competing to become more royalist than others. It’s tough.”

However, Sarinee defended Chiranuch for being cooperative and said she had no choice but to provide any and all information she had about the anonymous posters.

“The law does not give much leeway and is very obscure,” Sarinee said, adding that Chiranuch was “legally obliged” even if she disagreed with the law.

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