Former WeVo guards get suspended jail terms
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Former WeVo guards get suspended jail terms

Leader 'Toto' and 18 others convicted and fined for illegal assembly in connection with 2020 protest

Piyarat "Toto" Chongthep, then leader of the We Volunteer (WeVo) pro-democracy group, arrives at Yannawa police station on Feb 19, 2021 to hear charges relating to a protest outside the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok. (File photo: Apichart Jinakul)

The former chief guard of the volunteer group known as WeVo and 18 others have been sentenced to 20 days each in jail, suspended for two years, and fined 6,000 baht each, for illegal assembly and obstructing police during an anti-government protest in December 2020.

The Criminal Court on Friday issued the ruling on a suit filed by public prosecutors against Piyarat “Toto” Chongthep and 18 other guards.

Mr Piyarat, then head of the guards, and the other defendants gathered illegally at the Uruphong intersection on Phetchaburi Tat Mai Road and destroyed razor-wire barricades and iron barriers during an anti-government demonstration on the night of Dec 17, 2020, the court said.

Phayathai police had asked the defendants to call off the rally, but they refused. As officers moved in to arrest them, the defendants obstructed the officers, pushed steel barriers and used force against the officers, causing more chaos in violation of the law. They had denied all charges and were released on bail.

On Friday, Mr Piyarat and the 18 other guards arrived at the court to hear a ruling, accompanied by lawers.

The court found all 19 defendants guilty of illegal assembly of 10 people or more and causing chaos in violation of Sections 215 and 83 of the Criminal Code. It sentenced them to one month in jail and a fine of 9,000 baht each. The sentence was later commuted by one-third to 20 days in jail and a fine of 6,000 baht each because their testimonies were useful.

As the defendants had never been imprisoned before, the court gave them a chance to turn a new leaf by suspending their prison term for two years and putting them on probation for one year.

The court ordered them to report to probation officers four times and perform 24 hours of public service. The court acquitted them of other charges.

Mr Piyarat is on a list of 33 Bangkok candidates unveiled by the Move Forward Party on March 13. He will contest the coming election in the Phra Khanong and Bang Na constituency.

He said the suspended jail term did not affected his candidacy registration. He will be the only candidate performing public service during the election campaign.

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