Khaosod, Matichon Acquitted of Defaming Suthep in Graft Case

A file photo of Suthep Thaugsuban

BANGKOK — The Appeal Court on Thursday dismissed a libel case against Khaosod and Matichon newspapers filed by former deputy PM Suthep Thaugsuban.

The suit, which also named former chief of the Department of Special Investigation Tharit Pengdit as a co-defendant, accused the defendants of libeling Suthep when Tharit announced an investigation into possible corruption under Suthep’s oversight.

Affirming a ruling delivered by the lower court, the Appeal Court said Khaosod and Matichon were reporting the news relevant to public interest and therefore could not be held liable for libel. The court also said then-DSI chief Tharit was carrying out his duty as required by the law.

The investigation was launched in 2013 by Tharit’s agency to look into alleged irregularities related to the construction of 396 police stations authorized by Suthep, who was overseeing police affairs at the time.

Khaosod and Matichon reported extensively on the case, prompting Suthep to file a defamation suit. The two newspapers were part of Matichon Group, the same company that owns Khaosod English.

The DSI eventually concluded there was evidence to believe a graft did take place in the project and forwarded the case to the National Anti-Corruption Commission, who in turn recommended the prosecutors to take up the case against Suthep in July 2019.

The investigation is ongoing.