Anti-Thaksin group ordered to pay Bangkok Shutdown restitution

Anti-Thaksin group ordered to pay Bangkok Shutdown restitution

Flashback: Members of People's Democratic Reform Committee led by Thaworn Senneam shut down Revenue Department and Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry on Feb 24, 2014. (Post Today photo)
Flashback: Members of People's Democratic Reform Committee led by Thaworn Senneam shut down Revenue Department and Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry on Feb 24, 2014. (Post Today photo)

The Civil Court has handed down a ruling ordering five leaders of anti-Thaksin groups to pay more than 95 million baht for damages caused by occupying the Energy Ministry's compound during a 2014 mass protest.

The defendants, who led hundreds of supporters to set up a rally at the venue, were found guilty by the court which ruled Tuesday that their act was inappropriate as it caused a range of problems including damaged assets and a loss of revenue earned from land use.

The Energy Complex Co, a subsidiary of PTT Plc which leased its area on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road to the Energy Ministry and PTT, brought the case against Rawee Maschamadol, Thotsaphon Kaewthima, Itthabun Onwongsa and Thawatchai Phromchan, former co-leaders of the People's Army and Energy Reform Network, as well as Somkiat Pongpaiboon, co-leader of People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

The five leaders led rally-goers on an invasion of the compound on Jan 13, 2014, which was around the same time the now-defunct People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), led by former Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban, launched the Bangkok Shutdown campaign to intensify its protest against the Yingluck Shinawatra administration.

The PDRC protest was a precursor of the May 22 coup that toppled the government of Ms Yingluck, who is a younger sister of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

According to the lawsuit, the defendants' activities, including the erection of a make-shift stage and camps as well as the gathering of a number of demonstrators, forced officials to close their six buildings, disrupting their work and causing inconvenience to people contacting PTT Plc and energy agencies. The court said that the occupation caused damage to the plaintiff in terms of assets and money.

The company lost revenue from the rental of its land and other area-related services including money collected from car parks and a weekend market.

The plaintiff, which could not enter the area, was also forced to rent another venue to set up temporary offices, which incurred expenses.

All parties in the case can appeal the verdict within 30 days.

Dr Rawee and his supporters are also facing charges of instigating disorder and raiding other properties. These cases, handled by prosecutors, are being considered in the Criminal Court.

In a similar case in 2015, the Appeal Court ordered 13 former co-leaders of the yellow-shirt PAD, to pay 522 million baht to Airports of Thailand after being found guilty of leading a number of demonstrators to close Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports during their protest in 2008.

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