Warrant for Samui Times owner issued

Police gather evidence during a fact-finding trip to Koh Tao on Thursday after an alleged rape of a British tourist on the island. (Photo by Supapong Chaolan)

SURAT THAHI: The Samui provincial court has approved an arrest warrant for the owner and administrator of Samui Times, a news website that ran a report on the alleged rape of a British tourist on Koh Tao, a local police source said on Friday.

Suzanne Buchanan, also a British national and who was named in the warrant, is accused of publishing false information on the website, thus tarnishing the reputation of Koh Tao and violating the the computer crime law.

The offence carries a maximum jail term of five years and a fine of 100,000 baht, the source said.

Legal action is being sought against the news website after police concluded that the alleged rape of the 19-year-old British tourist did not take place.

The police have also threatened to press charges against the moderators of popular Facebook pages who spread “false” information in addition to 20 others who shared it online.

Immigration police on Friday searched two locations on Koh Samui in the hunt for Ms Buchanan. However, they found no trace of her, the same source said.

In July last year, a group of people on Koh Tao filed a complaint against Ms Buchanan after the website published a story about the death of a Belgian tourist and claimed she was murdered.

Pol Maj Gen Apichart Boonsriroj, commander of Surat Thani police, on Friday submitted a report to Pol Lt Gen Sorasak Yenprem, commissioner of Provincial Police Region 8.

Pol Maj Gen Apichart said their investigations revealed that the alleged rape did not take place as claimed by the British tourist. However, he said police will launch a fresh investigation if new evidence surfaces.

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