Former Phra Buddha Isara gets suspended jail term

Former Phra Buddha Isara gets suspended jail term

Suwit Thongprasert, formerly Phra Buddha Isara, arrives at the Criminal Court in Bangkok in a wheelchair on Monday for sentencing in the case involving the detention and assault of two plainclothes policemen during an anti-government protest he led in 2014. He was sentenced to 18-months in prison, suspended for one year.  (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
Suwit Thongprasert, formerly Phra Buddha Isara, arrives at the Criminal Court in Bangkok in a wheelchair on Monday for sentencing in the case involving the detention and assault of two plainclothes policemen during an anti-government protest he led in 2014. He was sentenced to 18-months in prison, suspended for one year. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

The Criminal Court on Monday sentenced the former Phra Buddha Isara to a suspended 18-month jail term for illegally detaining plainclothes police during a 2014 anti-government protest.

The court pronounced sentence on Suwit Thongprasert, 59, the former abbot of Wat Or Noi in Nakhon Phathom province and political activist, who had pleaded guilty last month.

Suwit led a protest against then-prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Chaeng Wattana Road in Laksi district of Bangkok from November 2013 to May 2014, part of the notorious Bangkok Shutdown led by former Democrat politician Suthep Thaugsuban.

On Feb 11, 2014, his guards arrested and detained Pol Sub Lt Somkid Choeikamol and Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wachirapong Oonnualburapong. The two plainclothes policemen were assaulted and lost personal possessions valued at 60,900 baht in total, the court was told.

Suwit was aware that his men detained the two policemen for hours and he did not order their release.

Pol Sub Lt Somkid suffered broken ribs and a ruptured liver. Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wachirapong suffered bruising and broken teeth.

Suwit, earlier released on bail of 200,000 baht, arrived at the Criminal Court in a wheelchair and was greeted by dozens of supporters. It was reported that he suffered from a herniated disc.

The prison term was commuted from three years to one year and six months because he confessed, and then suspended for a year because he had never previously committed a crime and had compensated the two victims, who did not want to continue with any legal action against him.

After the ruling, Suwit said he would re-enter the monkhood on Dec 1, but he did not say where, or whether he would resume any political activity.

At least five guards at the protest gathering were suspected of being involved in the assaults. They remain at large.



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