A charge against a former red-shirt co-leader who later joined the pro-military Palang Pracharath Party has been dropped because the statute of limitations expired.
Suporn “Rambo Isan” Atthakorn could not be brought to hear an indictment at the Pattaya court, Prayut Petchakhun, deputy spokesman of the Office of the Attorney-General, said on Tuesday.
Mr Suporn, 55, was among seven suspects who were co-leaders of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship. The others are Veerakarn Musikapong, Nuttawut Saikaur, Jatuporn Prompan, Weng Tochirakarn, Chakraphob Penkhair and Adisorn Piangkate. Mr Chakraphob fled the country several years ago and a warrant for his arrest was issued.
On April 11, 2009, hundreds of red shirts stormed a hotel where the Asean Summit was held in Pattaya. They had been holding street protests in several provinces to force then prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve Parliament and hold a new election, and the move was to step up the pressure.
Their co-leaders were later held responsible and charged with instigating sedition at the Criminal Court in Bangkok. The case is ongoing.
Police also used the same evidence to charge them at the Pattaya Court and sent the case to prosecutors on Aug 1, 2017. Pattaya prosecutors decided to indict all of them in early February this year, said Mr Prayut.
They charged the others early this year. Mr Suporn sent his lawyer before the April 2 appointment date to inform them his client was hospitalised and asked to reschedule. The request was denied and the prosecutors asked police to bring him in to hear the indictment by April 5. After that date, police told them they could not bring him in so an arrest warrant was issued, Mr Prayut said.
Mr Suporn was in the news late last year when he announced he would run as a PPRP MP candidate in Nakhon Ratchasima. He did not win a seat.
Mr Nuttawut, a co-defendant in the Pattaya case, wrote on Facebook he was impressed by the “miracle of law” which let only Mr Suporn walk free.
“I don’t have any problem if he is let off the hook because we red shirts have faced many more charges than others. But the statute of limitations expired? This is hard to swallow.
“I’m only saddened by the miracle of law and the judicial process,” he wrote.
There were rumours that making lawsuits disappear was used as a tool to lure former MPs to join a new party. “I wonder if there is a shred of truth in this case, “ he continued.