Limitless Cinema in Broken English

September 22, 2008

NO PROSECUTION FOR NAWAMIN WITTAYAKUL

Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 7:44 pm

The information below is copied from Prachatai’s English website:
http://www.prachatai.com/english/news.php?id=805

Prachatai
21 September 2008
News

A case was filed by Mr. Chotisak On-soong and Ms. Chutima Penpak against Mr. Nawamin Wittayakul on charges concerning an act of violence not amounting to bodily or mental harm to the other person; insulting a person in his presence; mischief; an offence committed with the participation of five or more persons to compel another person to do or not to do any act; and quarrelling noisily in a public way or place. The case stems from the fact that Mr. Nawamin threw popcorn and paper at the two plaintiffs for their failure to stand up while the royal anthem was played in a theatre on 20 September 2007. Later Mr. Nawamin sued Mr. Chotisak On-soong and Ms. Chutima Penpak for lèse majesté under Section 112 of the Penal Code (“whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir Apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years”).

Revently (19 September 2008), the public prosecutor decided to drop all the above charges against Mr. Nawamin.

A statement issued by the public prosecutor mentions that the alleged offender had simply thrown a box of popcorn and a roll of paper at the plantiffs and a medical doctor found no injuries from this action. Thus, it is construed that the two plaintiffs suffered no mental or bodily harm. In addition, the alleged offender committed the act out of anger and excessive temperament and did not intend to harm the two plaintiffs. It is thus believed that he had no intent to commit the offence.

As for the offence of mischief, the property damaged held such little value since the two plaintiffs had bought it just for 119 baht, and the property’s value was depreciated as a result of their consumption. During the incident, the alleged offender simply asked the two plaintiffs to pay due respect to His Majesty the King and the Queen and the Monarchy, an act which is a respectful tradition in Thai society; therefore, it was construed that the alleged offender had no intention to cause mischief.

As to the fact that the alleged offender threw paper toward the plaintiffs and shouted “get out” at them, and that other moviegoers jeered and shouted to demand the plaintiffs leave the theatre, this cannot be construed as any verbal or physical gesture or expression which showed that the alleged offender was making a threat to the plaintiffs to the point where they could reasonably fear injury to life, body and liberty. Likewise, it cannot be construed as an intention to use force while the two plaintiffs were told to leave the theatre. Thus, the offence of an act committed by five or more persons to compel another person to do or not to do any act cannot be established from the facts.

That the alleged offender said that “whatever nation, religion, monarchy (you belong to), why don’t you show love toward His Majesty? Are you Thai? See, even Westerners learn to stand up” is simply a word of warning and a reminder to the plaintiffs of the consequences of their action. It cannot be construed as libel or defamation, does not impair the reputation of another person or expose another person to hatred or contempt. And that the first plaintiff held up a mobile phone for communication and stood to obstruct the view of other moviegoers, and thus that the alleged offender said that “You have no manners. Such crazy shirts you wear. Get out of here” was simply a consequence since the act of the first plaintiff was viewed as contradicting good manners in viewing a film where the use of mobile phones or distracting other viewers’ attention is prohibited. Thus, the words uttered to the first plaintiff were made with the intention to bring such a violation of social etiquette to a halt. It cannot be construed as scolding, defaming or impairing the reputation of another, and as a result, the verbal action of the alleged offender cannot be used as a ground to establish defamation or insulting a person in the present case.

The exchange of words between the alleged offender and the plaintiffs stemmed from the intention of the former to demand that the latter stand up to show due respect to the royal anthem and cannot be construed as a quarrel. It happened that the alleged offender made most of the verbal expressions to demand action from the plaintiffs. Thus, the ground for the offence of quarrelling noisily in a public way or place cannot be established.

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Order to drop charges by public prosecutor

Case Mr. Nawamin Wittayakul, et al

Charge With the participation of five or more persons compelling another person to do or not to do any act

The fact has been established that the incident took place at the SFX Theater in Central World Department Store, Pathumwan Ward, Pathumwan District, Bangkok, on 20 September 2007, at around 19.45, while Mr. Chotisak On-soong, the first plaintiff, and Ms. Chutima Penpak, the second plaintiff, were viewing a film. The royal anthem was then played whilst the remaining audience stood up to show respect, except for the two plaintiffs. Mr. Nawamin Wittayakul, the alleged offender, approached them and in vain told them to stand up. Then, the alleged offender said “Damn it! whatever nation, religion, monarchy (you belong to), why don’t you show love toward His Majesty? Are you Thai? See, even Westerners learn to stand up.” And the alleged offender pointed a roll of paper toward the two plaintiffs and told them to get out. Then he threw the paper at the chest of the two plaintiffs. Then, he grabbed a popcorn box held by the second plaintiff and poured it on the two plaintiffs. His hand swept across and caused a soft drink cup to fall to the ground. The first plaintiff stood up and obstructed the view of other members of the audience. The alleged offender said “You have no manners. Such crazy shirts you wear. Get out of here”. Meanwhile, the other moviegoers jeered and demanded that the plaintiffs leave the theatre, and then the plaintiffs left the theatre.

The verdict

It was ascertained that the alleged offender simply threw the popcorn box and the paper roll toward the two plaintiffs. As for the first plaintiff, the medical doctor found no injuries, but verified that he suffered some pain in his wrist. As for the second plaintiff, the medical doctor found no injuries and recommended no treatment. Based on the evidence, it can be ascertained that the two plaintiffs suffered no bodily or mental harm. In addition, the alleged offender committed the action while being overwhelmed by excessive temperament and anger as a result of arguing with the two plaintiffs regarding the paying of due respect to the King and Queen. His action was confined just there and he showed no intention to use force to further harm the plaintiffs. It is believed that he had no intention to commit the offence and thus no ground can be established to bring the charge against him.

As for offence of mischief, the damaged property cost so little since the two plaintiffs bought it for merely 119 baht, and it was the remains after consumption by the two plaintiffs. Also, the incident happened in relation to the accusation of inflicting bodily and mental harm on the two plaintiffs which stemmed from the fact that the alleged offender pleaded with the two plaintiffs to pay respect to the King and Queen and the monarchy which is a noble tradition long observed in Thai society. Thus, it is believed that the alleged offender had no intention to cause mischief.

That the alleged offender threw paper at the plaintiffs and shouted “Get Out!” and that other viewers jeered and demanded the plaintiffs to leave the theatre stems from the discontent because the plaintiffs failed to stand up to pay respect to the royal anthem. The action cannot be construed as the exercise of verbal, physical or any other expressions to threaten the plaintiffs to the point where they would have fear of injury to life, body and liberty. And the actual use of force to harm did not take place while the two plaintiffs were told to leave the theatre. Therefore, the ground for the charge of acting with the participation of five or more persons to compel another person to do or not to do any act out of fear of injury to life, body and liberty cannot be established.

That the alleged offender said “whatever nation, religion, monarchy (you belong to), why don’t you show love toward His Majesty? Are you Thai? See, even Westerners learn to stand up” also stems from the discontent of the alleged offender to see that the two plaintiffs failed to stand up to pay respect to the royal anthem. It is natural for any Thai person when seeing such an incident, to say such a thing to warn and remind the plaintiffs of the impropriety of their action. The word cannot be construed as insulting or defaming or impairing the reputation of the plaintiffs or as exposing them to hatred or contempt. And in that the first plaintiff held up a mobile phone to speak and stood to obstruct the view of other moviegoers, and the fact that the alleged offender said “You have no manners. Such crazy shirts you wear. Get out of here” was simply a consequence since the act of the first plaintiff was viewed as contradicting good manners in viewing a film whereby the use of mobile phones or distracting other viewers’ attention is prohibited. Thus, the word uttered to the first plaintiff was made so with the intention of bringing such violation of social etiquette to a halt. It cannot be construed as scolding, defaming or impairing the reputation of another, and as a result, the verbal action of the alleged offender cannot be used as a ground to establish defamation or insulting a person in the present case.

The exchange of words between the alleged offender and the plaintiffs stemmed from the intention of the former to demand that the latter stand up to show due respect to the royal anthem and cannot be construed as a quarrel. It happened that the alleged offender was responsible for most of the verbal expression to demand action from the plaintiffs. Thus, the ground for the offence of quarrelling noisily in a public way or place cannot be established.

It was decided to dismiss charges against Mr. Nawamin Wittayakul Alleged Offender

Charges: Whoever commits an act of violence not amounting to bodily or mental harm to another person; whoever insults a person in his presence; mischief; an offence committed with the participation of five or more persons to compel another person to do or not to do any act; quarrelling noisily in a public way or place

As per Section 391 accompanied by Sections 80, 391, 326, 393, 358, 309 (2) and 372 and Section 83 of the Penal Code

Signed
(Banyong Pittayaphan)
Special Public Prosecutor, Criminal Division, Southern Bangkok Criminal Court 4

Translated by Pipob Udomittipong

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