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PTV sues defence minister for defamation

( - Operators of pro-Thaksin satellite television station PTV sued Defence Minister Boonrawd Somtas at the Criminal Court on Wednesday for defamation.

The operators, led by station head Veera Muksikapong, Chatuporn Phronpan and Nattawut Saikua, appeared at the court with their lawyer to file a charge against Gen Boonrawd for allegedly claiming that the operators received financial support to run the satellite television from an old power clique.

Mr Veera said Gen Boonrawd's accusation damaged sovereignty, which was an unforgiveable crime.

"He has said it, repeatedly, as if he wanted to destroy a movement calling for democracy, causing the general public to hate people of the group and destroy the group's credentials," Mr Veera said.

PTV operators have consistently denied they have direct links to ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra or the Thai Rak Thai Party, and also have denied they have received any support from Mr Thaksin. Those running the station had ties with Thai Rak Thai in the past, and the station's programmes and operating policy oppose the military coup, the army-run regime and the government.

"Gen Boonrawd is defence minister so he should have evidence to back his claim," Mr Veera added. "He shouldn't have said things after listening to others."

Mr Veera added that the operators planned to file a civil case against Gen Boonrawd for 50 million baht on behalf of the Puen Phong Nong Phee company, which operates PTV.

The Criminal Court set its first hearing on the case for June 11. PTV operators said they have eight to 10 witnesses and news clips to back their case.

PTV operators are scheduled to hold an anti-government rally at Sanam Luang on Friday evening. Mr Veera said he expected a large crowd and vowed that the gathering would be conducted peacefully.

© Copyright The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd. 2006
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