Chiranuch's motives to be weighed
A new judge presiding over the hearing of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, director of prachatai.com, who faces criminal charges for not removing messages deemed offensive to the monarchy "quickly enough", said the ruling would be based on the technicality of whether the suspect collaborated with the posters or if she just failed to remove the posts in time.
"It's a legal technicality. Did she know that [defamatory remarks existed] and did not remove them [quickly enough] out of negligence?" new judge Kampol Rungrat asked lawyers on both sides yesterday morning.
The prosecution side responded by asking: "So the case is becoming one of interpreting the intention [of Chiranuch]?"
The judge ignored the question, and went on to say: "It's clear that the defendant did not post the messages [herself] but the question is, did she or didn't she support [such postings]?"
Kampol, one of the two new judges assigned to the case, said that he would also decide on whether the 10 postings, each of which warrants a five-year jail term under Computer Crimes Act Section 15 or a combined sentence of no more than 20 years, can be considered as acts of lese majeste.
"The case really isn't complicated. The information is clear. It's not like someone stabbed a person and disappeared for five days. Whether she is guilty or not will be up to the court to decide," the judge added.
Two prosecution witnesses also testified at yesterday's hearing.
Pol Captain Kirirat Marak, a computer crime investigator, said that though he kept a close eye on the content of prachatai.com, he is not aware if there was any legal cases related to postings. "I did see some inappropriate content before [Chiranuch was charged] though," Kirirat told the court.
The second witness, Pol Major Suraphong Thampitak, is part of the panel considering whether the anonymous postings could be considered an act of lese majeste.
After he was pressed by defence lawyer Saengchai Rattanaseriwong to explain how the police dealt with the lack of clear procedures on how to conduct the examination, and what constitutes a lese majeste remark, the prosecution side asked Suraphong who was responsible for removing offensive postings from a website.
"The [prachatai.com] webmaster," Suraphong answered.
A composed Chiranuch later told The Nation that no matter how the trial ends, the case was already having a chilling effect on online discussions about the monarchy.
A number of foreign observers were present at the hearing, including two staff members from the US Embassy. The trial continues today.