Cops cleared of assault at pipeline protest

Cops cleared of assault at pipeline protest

The Supreme Court has upheld lower court verdicts to acquit six police officers, including former national police chief San Sarutanon, over assaults on demonstrators protesting a pipeline project 17 years ago.

The judges on Tuesday ruled the defendants had acted in line with their duties when they ordered 38 officers to disperse 25 rally-goers, including members of non-government organisations, near the JB Hotel in Songkhla's Hat Yai district.

The 2002 melee erupted just before then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra visited the hotel for a mobile cabinet meeting on Dec 20.

The protesters planned to submit a letter to Thaksin, calling on his government to scrap the Thai-Malaysian gas pipeline and gas separation plant in Songkhla's Chana district.

They said they had informed the government in advance and were told by an official to wait at the venue for an hour. However, police arrested 12 protesters at the scene. Arrest warrants were issued for another 22 people. The demonstrators accused the officers of using excessive force.

Criminal cases against the 34 protesters were also dismissed by Songkhla Provincial Court and the Court of Appeals.

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