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December 26, 2007

Media mogul gets three-year jail term for defaming Thaksin

Thailand's Criminal Court on Tuesday sentenced a media tycoon three-year non-suspended jail term for defaming former prime minister  Thaksin Shinawatra during last year's mass protest that culminated in the September 19 bloodless coup against Mr. Thaksin.

Sondhi Limthongkul, a fierce critic of the ousted premier and Manager Media Group founder, vowed to fight the case after being released on Bt300,000 (US$8,830) bail pending an appeal.

The anti-Thaksin critic was convicted due to his allegations made before a rally in Bangkok that the then premier had hired a gunman to assassinate him, hiring arsonists to burn a rally stage in Phuket and accusing the plaintiff as a superstition-ridden leader.

In the ruling, the court judges found the allegations were not supported with adequate proof, but that Mr. Sondhi aimed to overthrow the then prime minister through undemocratic means, instigating and driving the society further into a polarised state.

The court then handed down a sentence for three years in jail without suspension, but Mr. Sondhi was allowed bail to appeal the judgement.

The ruling was announced on the same day as Thaksin announced in Hong Kong that he planned to return from his self-imposed exile to Thailand in February after his political allies won last Sunday's general elections.

Courtesy TNA

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