Five red-shirt leaders lose final appeal, begin prison sentences
published : 26 Jun 2020 at 15:45
writer: Online Reporters
The Supreme Court has upheld the prison sentences given to leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), including a former deputy commerce and agriculture minister, over a violent protest 13 years ago outside the residence of late Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda.
The court confirmed the Appeal Court's sentencing of two years and eight months each for red-shirt movement leaders Veerakarn Musikapong, Nattawut Saikuar, Vipoothalaeng Pattanapoomthai and Weng Tojirakarn, and Nopparut Worachitwutthikul, leader of the 2006 White Pigeon group, for the protest outside Prem's residence on July 22, 2007.
Nattawut was deputy commerce and agriculture minister in the Yingluck Shinawatra government from 2012 to 2014.
The Supreme Court rejected their petition for light punishment and a suspended jail term, saying that causing national unrest was a serious matter.
The judgement was read out in the Criminal Court. The five men had been out on bail but were present at the Criminal Court. They were then taken to Bangkok Remand Prison.
The reading of the ruling had been postponed several times due to defendants being ill or relocated, changing their plea from not guilty to guilty, and the coronavirus outbreak.
The four red-shirt leaders were first sentenced to four years and four months in prison back in September 2015. The Appeal Court reduced their sentences to two years and eight months because they cooperated with the court .
Lawyers then applied successfully for their release on bail, with a surety of 500,000 baht each, while the Supreme Court considered their final appeal.
Veerakarn, Nattawut, Vipoothalaeng and Weng were among the seven people brought to trial in connection with the violence outside Gen Prem’s Si Sao Thewes residence to pressure him to resign as the chief royal adviser.
They were accused of gathering in a group of more than 10 people for political purposes, leading a group of people to use force and weapons to cause chaos in a city area, colluding to oppose authorities, and defying lawful 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 the late privy council president was behind the September 2006 coup.
About 200 policemen and 30 civilians were injured.