By Pravit Rojanaphruk
This news might come as a surprise to some, as Vasant is a well-known outspoken critic of the ousted fugitive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, while Somyos was the editor of the now-defunct “Voice of Taksin” magazine.
Vasant, 65, said his decision to represent Somyos was a matter of principle, as he believed the man is innocent and should at least be granted bail.
“I may disagree with many things related to Thaksin, but people can think differently,” Vasant, who is now director of the Institute of Jurists and Human Rights, told The Nation.
Vasant said Somyos’ wife Sukanya had asked him to represent her husband and he had agreed to do so because he believed Somyos should not have been jailed, especially since the Printing Act, which requires editors to be responsible for all articles, has not been in existence since 2007.
He added that Somyos had made it clear in his testimony that the person behind the nom de plume of Jit Polachan was Jakraphob Penkhae, a former PM’s Office minister who is now on a self-imposed exile. He also cited other staff members from the magazine as telling the court that Somyos most probably did not read the two articles before publication. Besides, Vasant said, he does not see anything that violates the lese majeste law in the articles. Somyos has been given a 10-year jail sentence.