Appeal Court cuts sentences for 6 ex-PAD leaders

Appeal Court cuts sentences for 6 ex-PAD leaders

Chamlong Srimuang, 82, former co-leader of the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy, arrives at the Court of Appeal on Monday to hear the verdict on the 2008 seizure of Government House, led by him and five others.
(Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)
Chamlong Srimuang, 82, former co-leader of the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy, arrives at the Court of Appeal on Monday to hear the verdict on the 2008 seizure of Government House, led by him and five others. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

The Court of Appeal has sentenced six former co-leaders of the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) to eight months in prison, reducing the two-year jail terms imposed by the primary court for their seizure of Government House in an attempt to oust then-prime minister Samak Sundaravej in 2008.

The judge on Monday reasoned their act was "not intended to benefit certain groups or their own interests", so their penalty should be reduced. However, according to the ruling, the imprisonment will not be suspended.

The defendants -- Chamlong Srimuang, Sonthi Limthongkul, Pibhop Dhongchai, Somkiat Pongpaibul, Somsak Kosaisuk and Suriyasai Katasila -- were found guilty by the Criminal Court in 2015 of leading their supporters to occupy Government House for over three months and causing damage to its assets.

The PAD-led demonstrators cut a chain police used to lock the gate in front of Government House in order to break into its compound, causing damage to electricical equipment and sprinkler systems on the lawn.

The Criminal Court imposed a three-year jail term on each of the defandants, but reduced it to two because they had cooperated with prosecutors.

However, the group appealed the ruling, asking for lighter punishment because they claimed they had committed no crimes and their protest was in the public interest.

The PAD, which is now dissolved, wanted to pressure then-prime ministers Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat to resign, accusing them of conflicts of interest through their links with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The late Samak was prime minister from Jan 29 to Sept 9, 2008. He was succeeded by Mr Somchai, who held office from Sept 18 to Dec 2, 2008.

PAD lawyer Suwat Apaipak requested that the court release all defendants but Sonthi on bail. He said he would bring the case to the Supreme Court.

Sonthi, 70, is serving a 20-year jail term in another case involving his company, Manager Media Group. In September last year, the Supreme Court found him - together with three former Manager directors - guilty of falsifying multi-million-baht loan guarantee documents without approval from the MMG's board of directors.


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