Red shirts confess, punishment on ice
The Supreme Court in Pattaya on Thursday deferred a decision on the punishment for three core red-shirt protesters after they made a last-minute confession.
The three are Palang Pracharath Party MP Waipot Apornrat, Samroeng Prajamruea and Worachai Hema, who is a former MP for Samut Prakan province.
The three formally requested the court accept their confession statements for leniency in the ruling against them.
The confessions prompted the court to postpone the ruling. The delay was thought to be to allow the court time to decide if the confessions will be accepted and, if so, whether they will have a bearing on the punishments already passed.
The Supreme Court's ruling on the final appeals of 11 defendants, including the trio, was first read on Sept 11.
The court upheld the guilty rulings by lower courts which found the defendants guilty as charged for their roles in the protests during the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration.
The Supreme Court sentenced the 11 defendants to four years' imprisonment each with no suspension of the jail terms.
They were among red-shirt protesters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) who forced their way into the Royal Cliff Beach Resort Hotel, the venue of the 14th Asean Summit, on April 11, 2009, causing its abrupt cancellation and the emergency evacuation of foreign leaders.
On Thursday, the court ordered Waipot, Samroeng and Worachai to return on Dec 3 when it is expected that the judge will announce if their confessions will be accepted and if so, whether the ruling against them will be read out on that day too, according to Natthapol Banyasoong, a lawyer representing Samroeng and Worachai.
The postponement effectively allows Waipot to remain as MP for Kamphaeng Phet at least until Dec 3.
On Sept 11, only one defendant, Sakda Noppasit, deputy secretary-general of the now-defunct Puea Chat Party, showed up.
Four more defendants, Payap Panket, Pichet Sukchindathong, Singthong Buachum and Nopporn Namchiangtai, later surrendered and heard the court judgements on Sept 19.
Three other red-shirt leaders, Arisman Pongruangrong, Wallop Yangtrong and Thanakrit Cha-emnoi have not showed up at all to hear the court's ruling. Bench warrants have been issued for their arrest.
Thailand was Asean chairman at the time of the protests. The summit was abruptly cancelled due to the hotel incursion by hundreds of UDD members determined to oust the Democrat Party-led government of then-prime minister Abhisit.
Former UDD leader Jatuporn Prompan said he was confident the convicted red shirt co-leaders who have not reported to the court will not flee.
He said they might need some time to prepare themselves.