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Former Bangkok Governor Samak and Dusit get jail for slander

Former Bangkok Governor and talk show host Samak Sundaravej (the one with the towel around his neck)

Political veterans and talk-show hosts Samak Sundaravej and Dusit Siriwan were each sentenced to two years' imprisonment yesterday for defaming Deputy Bangkok Governor Samart Ratchapolasit last January.

Samak and Dusit were released on bail of Bt200,000 in cash pending an appellate review, following the sentencing session at the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court.

"The court battle is not over yet as I will definitely appeal the verdict," Samak said after his release. He said he already assigned his lawyer to lodge an appeal within 30 days.

Samart, meanwhile, said that, as the plaintiff, he was glad to have proved his innocence to society after being smeared by the two defendants.

"I also hope the criminal verdict will back up the civil litigation in which I am demanding Bt100 million in damages," he said.

In yesterday's ruling, the court outlined remarks made by the two defendants as talk-show hosts and aired on two television stations, Channel 5 and Channel 9.

It noted that the defence conceded that the bribery allegation against Samart was a rehash of other news reports and that the two defendants had not verified the information before airing it.

The plaintiff had provided banking and purchase records to rebut the defendants' allegation that contractors paid for a brand new luxury sedan as a bribe, the court said.

It found that the two defendants could not substantiate their remarks, made on four separate occasions, alleging the plaintiff's involvement in demanding bribes from contractors.

The court sentenced Samak and Dusit to six months' imprisonment each for all of the four libellous remarks and ordered them to apologise publicly by publishing the summary verdict in a national newspaper for three consecutive days.

The court refused to grant leniency in its sentencing in view of the defendants' repeated offences for libel.

- The Nation

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