PAD may seek donations to pay damages

PAD may seek donations to pay damages

Group to pay B552m for 2008 protests

Yellow-shirt protesters cheer during the seizure of Suvarnabhumi airport on Nov 27, 2008. (Post Today photo)
Yellow-shirt protesters cheer during the seizure of Suvarnabhumi airport on Nov 27, 2008. (Post Today photo)

Core members of the now-defunct People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) are hopeful they will not have to hand over the full 552 million baht they have been court-ordered to pay for the group's protests in 2008 that led to the shutting down of the capital's two main airports.

Samran Rodpetch, one of the PAD's key members, told the Bangkok Post he and other leading figures of the group will hold a meeting to discuss the compensation order.

He said the alliance has not yet decided on setting up a fund to solicit financial donations from the public.

The legal execution has not been carried out and it remains to be seen whether they will be forced to pay the full amount, Mr Samran said.

"We do not want to bother people too much. Last year, when we asked for an extension to lodge the appeal, people donated eight million baht to assist with the court battle," he said.

"We didn't want to ask for money so we may choose to set up the fund as a last resort."

On Thursday the Supreme Court rejected a petition by key PAD figures appealing against a lower court ruling ordering 13 group members to pay the Airports of Thailand (AoT) 522 million baht in compensation for protests that led to the closure of Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports.

On March 25, 2011, the Civil Court ordered the 13 PAD figures to pay that sum with an annual interest rate of 7.5%. The airport occupations began on Nov 24, 2008.

In 2015, the Appeal Court upheld the lower court's verdict. The defendants were given 30 days to appeal but failed to meet the deadline.

They later lodged a petition asking for an extension. The Court of First Instance and the Appeal Court rejected their request.

The defendants' lawyers then took the petition to the Supreme Court, where judges this week said they had failed to lodge the petition within the time allowed, meaning their clients would have to pay the compensation to the AoT.

Suriyasai Katasila, a former coordinator of the PAD, said the group respects the court's ruling and is ready to face the consequences.

In a phone interview with the Bangkok Post he said the core PAD members need to discuss the issue with their lawyers.

The process of negotiating with the AoT, which sought the compensation, as well as the legal execution and bankruptcy declaration "could take years", Mr Suriyasai said.

"I still think what we did was for the public good. We were fighting against a fraudulent government at that time," said Mr Suriyasai, referring to the Somchai Wongsawat administration.

The PAD laid siege to the capital's two key airports from Nov 24 to Dec 3, 2008 in protest against the Somchai government. The occupation forced both airports to shut down temporarily.

Maleerat Kaewka, another key PAD member facing the compensation order, said she does not regret participating in the protest.

She said she is ready for a bankruptcy filing if required but insisted that if the AoT wants to negotiate the level of compensation she is ready to do so.

If supporters want to set up a fund to help cover the damages that would be welcome, she added.

"I am ready to fight all kinds of injustice," Ms Maleerat said.

In addition to Mr Samran, Mr Suriyasai and Ms Maleerat, the other 10 PAD members ordered to pay compensation are: Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang, Sondhi Limthongkul, Pibhob Dhongchai, Somsak Kosaisuk, Chaiwat Sinsuwong, Somkiat Pongpaiboon, Saranyu Wongkrajang, Sirichai Mai-ngam, Amorn Amornratananont and Therdphum Jaidee.

The blockades forced airlines to use other airports, mainly U-Tapao in Rayong.

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