Court delays verdict in Thai lese-majesty trial

AUDIO from Connect Asia

Venkiteswaran discusses the Premchaiporn case

Created: 30/04/2012

Last Updated: Mon, 30 Apr 2012 15:50:00 +1000

A Bangkok court has postponed giving its verdict in the closely-watched trial of a Thai web editor accused of publishing critical remarks about the monarchy on her website.

Chiranuch Premchaiporn was arrested in March during the crackdown initiated by then-prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

She denies allegations that she did not remove 10 online posts made by others that were perceived as critical of the monarchy quickly enough.

If found guilty, she faces up to 20 years in prison.

The judge says the Bangkok Criminal Court is unable to finish considering the evidence in time due to the large number of documents filed by both sides.

The verdict has been postponed until then end of May.

The executive director of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance, Gayathry Venkiteswaran, has told Radio Australia's Connect Asia the sentence could set a worrying precedent.

"This sends a chilling effect because it sends this message out to bloggers, to internet service providers, to web masters that the responsibility is placed on their shoulders to look through every comment, every posting that is put on their website."

He says the case has wide implications not just for Thailand but also for the rest of the region.

"We've seen in the last two years sort of an attempt to have legislation. For example in Indonesia, you see that happening, sort of talk about it happening in Malaysia, definitely when you look at Vietnam, Laos, there's this tendency by the government to be really afraid of this online platform," he said.

"So there are draft legislations, there are talks, there are sort of policies being introduced to actually place that responsibility on the shoulders of the intermediaries.

"It's about five or six countries in the region are sort of heading in that direction."

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