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Thailand's premier sues cartoonist over 'prostitute' Facebook post

Yingluck Shinawatra is suing a cartoonist who posted a photo to Facebook along with a caption condemning her.

Thailand's prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra is the sister of the exiled former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thailand's prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra is the sister of the exiled former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.
Image: Saurabh Das/AP

THAILAND’S PRIME MINISTER Yingluck Shinawatra has filed a defamation suit against an influential cartoonist alleging he compared the premier to a prostitute in a Facebook post.

Chai Rachawat, a cartoonist for a prominent daily newspaper, posted pictures of Yingluck on Tuesday accompanied by the words “… a prostitute is not an evil person, the hooker only sells body. But an evil woman sells the nation.”

His post apparently took aim at the premier’s appearance at a democracy forum a day earlier in Mongolia, where she gave an unusually fiery speech condemning the 2006 overthrow of her brother Thaksin in an army coup.

“A lawyer authorised by the Prime Minister filed lawsuits against him for defamation,” Police Colonel Pattarapol Sanitwong Na Ayudhya of Bangkok police told AFP.

The lawyer also filed two further claims – one for libel and one under the contentious computer crime act, he added.

Combined, the charges can carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail, a second police official said requesting anonymity.

Criticism of ‘anti-democratic forces’

In her address to the conference in Ulan Bator on Monday, Yingluck decried “anti-democratic forces” in Thailand for toppling her brother – the former owner of Manchester City FC – who now lives in self-imposed exile but maintains a deep influence over Thai politics.

“Thailand lost track and the people spent almost a decade to regain their democratic freedom… Thailand lost international credibility,” she said, adding her government, elected in a landslide in 2011, was also being undermined by those same unnamed forces.

Her speech caused uproar in the bitterly politically divided kingdom, with rival academics and senators demanding the premier swiftly apologise for her comments.

A lawmaker from Yingluck’s Pheu Thai party condemned the cartoonist’s post as “a violation of women’s rights and insult on women” that defamed the premier.

“Chai Rachawat’s defamatory comment calling the country’s leader a whore is totally unacceptable,” MP Jarupan Kuldiloke said in a statement on behalf of the party’s women lawmakers.

Bangkok police said they will now probe the allegation against Chai Rachawat – whose real name is Somchai Katunyutanan – before deciding whether to press charges.

- © AFP, 2013

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