Court cuts PAD guards’ jail time

Court cuts PAD guards’ jail time

The Appeal Court has slashed a lower court’s jail sentences handed to People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) guards who invaded the National Broadcasting Services of Thailand (NBT) building during antigovernment protests six years ago.

Eighty-five men, known as the “Srivichai Warriors”, led by Thanate Khamchoom, forced their way into the state-owned NBT building on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road on Aug 22-25, 2008, as part of protests to topple the then Samak Sundaravej government.

Armed with guns and knives they damaged assets worth 600,000 baht and used force to prevent two TV news anchors, and others, from broadcasting and forced them to leave the station.

The men were charged by public prosecutors with criminal association and the assembly of 10 or more people to commit acts causing unrest, among others.

The Criminal Court on Dec 30, 2010 sentenced Thanate to 30 months in prison. The others got jail terms ranging from six to 30 months.

The sentences were suspended for six of the men, since they were juveniles at the time the crimes were committed.

The Appeal Court yesterday did not find them guilty of criminal association, saying they had simply followed the PAD’s orders. It found them guilty of trespassing, although public prosecutors had not filed this charge.

Since they had committed a series of crimes, the ones with the heaviest sentences appealed and the Appeal Court sentenced them to six to 12 months in prison.

As the defendants confessed, their terms were halved to three to eight months. The terms for the six who were juveniles at the time of the crime remained suspended.

The court also approved arrest warrants for the seven who did not turn up in court yesterday. The ex-PAD guards’ lawyers said they were prepared to post surety in the form of cash and life insurance policies worth 200,000 baht each for their release while they appeal the case.

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