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Elon Musk to face trial for calling Thai cave rescuer a pedo guy

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Elon Musk to face trial for calling Thai cave rescuer a pedo guy

Elon Musk ran into trouble last year after he responded to the criticism by the Thai cave rescuer by calling him a pedophile and a child rapist.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is set to face a trial for calling the Thai cave rescuer, Vern Unsworth, a pedophile later this year. A US district judge on Friday ruled that Musk must face a defamation case by the British diver, who helped save lives of the 12 Thai children who were stuck inside a cave last year, for falsely branding him a 'pedo guy' and a child rapist.

"A reasonable factfinder could easily conclude that defendant's statements, as pleaded in the complaint, implied assertions of objective fact," wrote district judge Stephen Wilson.

The clash between Musk and the Thai cave rescuer started when the latter criticised the Tesla chief's plan of saving the kids of the Thai soccer team using a tube-shaped submarine. Unsworth, in his interview with the CNN said that Musk's plan of saving the Thai was a "PR stunt" and that he "can stick his submarine where it hurts".

Unsworth's statement didn't go down well with the SpaceX founder who in a series of tweets called the British diver a "pedo guy". "You know what, don't bother showing the video. We will make one of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problemo. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it," Musk wrote in a tweet.

Then he doubled down on his insult by tweeting "Bet ya a signed dollar it's true". His tweet didn't go down well with the Twitter users, who blasted him for his derogatory remarks, following which Musk deleted his tweets and apologised for his comment.

The matter, however, did not end right there. In an email sent to BuzzFeed News, Musk called Unsworth a child rapist asserting that he had moved to Thailand "for a child bride who was about 12 years old at the time".

Unsworth denied all the allegations and in turn slapped the Tesla chief with a defamation lawsuit seeking at least $75,000 in compensatory damages along with punitive damages. "Elon Musk falsely accused Vernon Unsworth of being guilty of heinous crimes. Musk's influence and wealth cannot convert his lies into truth or protect him from accountability," Unsworth's lawyer, L. Lin Wood said in a statement last year.

Later in December, Musk's lawyers appealed to the court to dismiss the lawsuit saying that his comments were "imaginative" or "over-the-top" insults that were protected under the US First Amendment rights. Judge Wilson, however, denied dismissal of the defamation case against Musk on April 26 partly because of the Musk's email following his tweet, which indicated that he believed his statements to be true, The Verge reported.

Now, a pre-trial conference is scheduled to take place on October 7 and the case would go on trial on October 22 this year.