Australian court rules man can sue Google for defamation

Milorad'Michael Trkulja was victorious in a court case at the High Court of Australia receiving approval to sue Google for defamation

Milorad'Michael Trkulja was victorious in a court case at the High Court of Australia receiving approval to sue Google for defamation

Milorad "Michael" Trkulja has convinced the Australian High Court that he should be allowed to sue Google for allegedly publishing photos that he has claimed "convey imputations that he "is a hardened and serious criminal in Melbourne"," according to an amended statement of claim referred to the High Court order (PDF).

Billionaire Hong Kong tycoon Albert Yeung brought a libel suit against Google in 2012 over search results that he said linked him to the territory's criminal triad gangs.

Trkulja was shot in the back in a restaurant in Melbourne in 2004, according to local reports.

Google claims it would be "irrational" to link Trkulja's image with those of underworld figures, in the same way a person might not link them with pictures of movie star Marlon Brando, who also appears in some searches.

In its decision, the High Court of Australia ruled the Google search results were capable of defaming Mr Trkulja.

Google Image searches for "Milorad Trkulja" have been bringing up images of Trkjula alongside images of Melbourne mob figures, including jailed drug trafficker Tony Mokbel, for more than 10 years.

The court heard Trkulja's claims that he was defamed by the internet giant as google searches link him to the Melbourne criminal underworld
The court heard Trkulja's claims that he was defamed by the internet giant as google searches link him to the Melbourne criminal underworld

A Victorian Court of Appeal agreed with Google that the case had no real prospect of successfully proving defamation.

"I will sue Google. and I will sue them 'til they stop".

Trkulja is also suing over alleged autocomplete suggestions for his name, which he has alleged included the phrases "is a former hitman", "criminal" and "underworld". "I'm not a criminal, I've never been involved and I will make sure these people are not going to ruin my family - I have grandchildren", the Aussie Associated Press news agency quoted Trkulja as saying.

"We will continue to defend the claim", a Google spokesperson said Wednesday, declining to comment further as the case was ongoing.

"It would be open to a jury to conclude that an ordinary reasonable person using the Google search engine would infer that the persons pictured whose identities are unknown are persons, like the notorious criminals with whom they are pictured, in some fashion opprobriously connected with criminality and the Melbourne criminal underworld", the judgment said.

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