Australian journalist Alan Morison has lost his bid to avoid a trial after Thailand's military coup scuttled mediation efforts with the country's navy, which had accused him of defamation. His case will now be heard in March 2015.
Australian journalist Alan Morison has lost his bid to avoid a trial after Thailand's military coup scuttled mediation efforts with the country's navy, which had accused him of defamation.
His case will now be heard in March 2015.
The mediation efforts that may have led to legal proceedings being dropped were brokered by the Thai Human Rights Commission and scheduled to take place last Friday, but were cancelled at the last minute by the Royal Thai Navy following the coup.
'That is frustrating, to get so close to being able to meet people and talk to people about a settlement, and then to find that a coup happens and the talks were cancelled,' Morison told AAP on Monday shortly after a scheduled, but brief, court appearance.
Morison and Thai reporter Chutima Sidasathian have been charged with criminal defamation and breaches of the Computer Crimes Act by the Thai navy over reports published in Phuketwan, an online English language news service based in Phuket.
In July last year, Phuketwan republished excerpts of a Thompson-Reuters report alleging Thai navy personnel were involved in the trafficking of ethnic Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.
If found guilty, Morison and Chutima face up to seven years in prison.
The Thai navy says it will also move to press charges against Reuters, whose reporters were recently awarded the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. Chutima had assisted the Reuters journalists by providing contacts and arranging interviews.
The hearing on Monday was largely procedural. The judge was presented with lists of character and professional witnesses, who will be called at the next hearing.
No evidence was presented in court and the accused were asked only to identify themselves before the judge.
'The case is intriguing because of a whole lot of different aspects to it and (it is) precedent setting, and that's why they decided that they can't hear it until March, and they want to set aside three days and make a big deal of it,' Morison said.
The next hearing date is set for March 18, 2015.
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