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Thailand ex-PM loses appeal of defamation charges

[JURIST] The Thailand Court of Appeals ruled against former Thai prime minister Samak Sundaravej [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] Thursday, upholding defamation convictions against him and an associate, Dusit Siriwan. The charges stem from a 2006 television appearance in which both men allegedly insinuated that former Bangkok deputy governor Samart Rajpolasidhi was involved in a vote-rigging scheme. Samak and Dusit were convicted of four counts of libel and sentenced to two years in prison. Samak was ousted [JURIST report] by the Constitutional Court of Thailand [official website, in Thai] earlier this month on charges that he violated the constitution when he accepted payment for his appearance on a television cooking program [SkyNews report, with video]. At trial, the court unanimously rejected Samak's defense that he received only an honorarium [Bloomberg report] as a freelance actor when he appeared on the show. AP has more. The Nation has local coverage.

Early this month, Samak imposed a state of emergency [press release] in Bangkok following weeks of anti-government protests. Members of the opposition People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) party refused to recognize the order as they demanded Samak's resignation. Samak resisted those calls and instead proposed a national referendum [JURIST report] on whether he should continue in office. PAD announced plans to seek Samak's impeachment [JURIST report] in July after a series of court decisions against key officials in the government and the PPP. Three weeks ago, Thailand's Election Commission voted to recommend [JURIST report] that the PPP be disbanded for election fraud allegedly committed by one of its former top officers.

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