Court sentences man to 27 months for defamation against former Phuket governor

Photo courtesy of Phuket News.

A 27-month jail term has been handed down to Aiya Phetthong by the Phuket Provincial Court, following his guilty verdict for defamation. The charges stemmed from his online posts alleging that former Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew was involved in an illegal operation smuggling Muslims into Phuket in 2021.

The formal complaint against Phetthong, who is a registered resident of the Lat Phrao District in Bangkok, was filed on February 17 last year. It was submitted by Thitima Chaemchoi, the Legal Officer at the Phuket Provincial Administrative Office, acting under the authority of the former Phuket Governor.

The basis of the court case was a series of online posts that accused former Phuket Governor Narong of smuggling Muslims into Thailand illegally and misappropriating state funds to construct a mosque. These posts prompted two warnings from the National Anti-Fake News Center, highlighting the spread of false information online.

The first warning, issued in October 2021, addressed a post alleging that the former Phuket Governor was secretly smuggling foreign Muslims into the country. The Anti-Fake News Center, following an investigation in collaboration with the Phuket Provincial Public Relations Office, declared the information as false.

In the warning, the Anti-Fake News Center stressed that the former Phuket Governor is a Buddhist and there was no truth to the claims of illegal smuggling of Islamic individuals into the country. The public was urged not to trust or share such information on social media, and to seek verified information from official sources, such as the Phuket Public Relations Office.

The second warning, issued in December 2021, refuted claims that the former Phuket Governor approved a budget of 56 million baht for building a mosque and was bringing a large number of foreign Muslims into Phuket.

The Phuket Public Relations Office reaffirmed that the Phuket governor is a Buddhist and had never approved such a budget nor participated in any form of smuggling activity, reported Phuket News.

The court verdict, delivered yesterday, found Phetthong guilty under Section 328 and Section 78 of the Criminal Code.

As part of his sentence, Phetthong must post corrective notices on social media and in at least two daily newspapers for a week. He is also required to delete all online posts related to the false claims.

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Crime NewsPhuket News

Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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