By KAWINTRA JAISEU
The stripping took place on July 29, after the Daily News reporter questioned Muang Ban Phai mayor Premsak Piayura, then 51, over photos showing him with a schoolgirl and a tray in front of them containing a vehicle-registration book and a Buddha statue. The photos prompted public speculation that the career politician was engaged or married to the teenage girl.
In response, Premsak locked the male reporter along with fellow journalists in his office and ordered that he be stripped.
Convicted alongside Premsak was his secretary, Second Lieutenant Buathong Lokhan.
The court declined to suspend the jail term on grounds the two defendants blatantly violated laws when they should have set good examples for others to follow.
Several other reporters were detained with the victim and witnessed the stripping. They appeared as witnesses for the plaintiff.
The court was unconvinced by the defendants’ claim that the reporter had deliberately slandered him to secure an advantage for Premsak’s political rival.
“There is no evidence whatsoever to back claims that the defendants’ political rival is behind the case coming to court,” the ruling said.
Pakarn Nopsri, lawyer for the plaintiff reporter, said no one would ever slander another person with something that would humiliate himself.
The victim thanked the court for delivering justice and protecting the dignity of reporters.
“I will keep working for the public interest,” he said.
Premsak and his secretary were released on Bt120,000 bail.
The stripping scandal has seriously hurt Premsak’s political career and reputation. Before the scandal broke out, he was known as a seasoned politician with a medical degree.
He was elected as an MP four times before running for the mayoralty.
Following the scandal, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, acting as head of the National Council for Peace and Order, suspended Premsak from duty.
Last year, Interior Minister General Anupong Paochinda ordered the permanent dismissal of scandal-hit Premsak.