KHON KAEN — An appeal court in the northeast on Tuesday upheld a two-month jail term for a former mayor who forced a reporter to strip in retaliation for a news story he didn’t like.
Affirming the verdict by the lower court, the judge found Premsak Piayura guilty of indecency and illegal detention for the incident in July 2016, when he ordered a Daily News reporter to strip to his underwear for reporting about the politician’s engagement to a teenage schoolgirl.
Premsak initially contested the charges, but later entered a guilty plea after the lower court found him guilty in June 2018 and sentenced him to two months in jail.
However, the appeal court today ruled there was no ground for clemency as his confession came after the guilt was already established. Premsak was subsequently given a two-month unsuspended jail term.
The bizarre legal fight started when Daily News published a story in July 2016 about a rumor that Premsak had gotten engaged to a local schoolgirl, paying a dowry of 400,000 baht and a car. Premsak was 51 at the time.
After the news was published, Premsak summoned five reporters to his office where he allegedly locked them in a room and berated them for insulting him with the coverage. The reporters were from Daily News, Matichon Group, Channel 3, Nation TV and a local TV station called KKC.
The mayor eventually released four of the reporters, but held back Daily News reporter Korsith Kongchom. Premsak then ordered his aide to strip the man naked to his underwear as punishment, prosecutors said. The aide, Buathong Lokan, was also given a two-month jail term today..
The military government later stripped Premsak of his mayoral office in 2017.
Both Buathong and Premsak were granted bail today while they contest the case in the Supreme Court.