Red-shirt ruling postponed after confessions

Red-shirt ruling postponed after confessions

Co-leaders 'sorry' for 2007 violent protest

Red-shirt member Veerakarn Musikapong (centre) arrives at the Criminal Court on Monday for a ruling on their roles in the violent protest outside the home of the late Privy Council president, Prem Tinsulanonda, in 2007. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
Red-shirt member Veerakarn Musikapong (centre) arrives at the Criminal Court on Monday for a ruling on their roles in the violent protest outside the home of the late Privy Council president, Prem Tinsulanonda, in 2007. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

The Supreme Court deferred its ruling in a case against four red-shirt co-leaders on Monday after the defendants confessed to their roles in the violent protest outside the home of the late Privy Council president, Prem Tinsulanonda, in 2007.

Veerakarn Musikapong, Nattawut Saikuar, Vipoothalaeng Pattanapoomthai and Weng Tojirakarn, of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, withdrew their statements and confessed to organising an illegal gathering, causing unrest and encouraging others to resist and obstruct state officers.

After the change of plea, the Supreme Court said it would postpone its final ruling. 

The four were each sentenced to four years and four months in jail back in September 2015. The Appeal Court then sentenced them to four years in prison, reduced to two years and eight months as their testimonies were deemed useful.

Lawyers then obtained their release on bail with a surety of 500,000 baht each pending an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Veerakarn, Nattawut, Vipoothalaeng and Weng were among seven people brought to trial in connection to the violence outside Gen Prem’s Si Sao Thewes residence to pressure him to resign as the chief royal adviser.

The other three were Nopparut Worachitwutthikul, leader of the 2006 White Pigeon group, Weerasak Hemathulin and Wachai Naputtha.

They were accused of gathering in a group of more than 10 people, leading a group of people to use force and weapons to cause chaos in city areas, colluding to fight authorities, and defying authorities’ instructions to disperse.

The violence broke out after red-shirt protesters marched from Sanam Luang to Gen Prem’s home to demand his resignation, as they believed Gen Prem was behind the September 2006 coup.

In its ruling, the Appeal Court said the protest was staged to stir up public unrest, not as an exercise of civil rights and liberties.

After the court announced the delay in its ruling on Monday, Nattawut said he and fellow red-shirt co-leaders offered their apologies because the protest outside Gen Prem's residence caused injuries among both protesters and police officers on duty. 

"We are sorry for what happened," he said, before insisting the red-shirt co-leaders harboured no grudge with the late Gen Prem.

They also requested leniency, asking the court to give them suspended sentences instead.



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