32 airport protesters acquitted
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32 airport protesters acquitted

Thirty-two members of the now-defunct People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) political group have been acquitted of insurrection-related charges, with 13 fined 20,000 baht each for trespassing and violating the emergency decree.

The ruling was read out at the Criminal Court yesterday after a lawsuit was filed by prosecutors against the 32 PAD members including its leader Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang for insurrection in connection with their laying siege to Don Mueang airport from Nov 24 to Dec 3, 2008.

The protest led to the shutdown of the airport and caused damage estimated at 627,080 baht, according to the prosecutors.

The group was attempting to force the resignation of leaders of the Somchai Wongsawat government, who were accused of being puppets of then-exiled and now-jailed former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

There were six damaged parties -- Don Mueang airport, Airports of Thailand, Aerothai, Highways Department, Thai Airways and Thailand Post -- in this case.

The court ruled there was insufficient evidence to prove the defendants had committed insurrection, assaulted officials or obstructed them from performing their duties, or illegally detained any official or disrupted a communications system or air travel services during their protest at the airport.

The protest was also peaceful and the protesters were unarmed, resulting in the acquittals.

Nevertheless, the court ordered 13 defendants to pay a fine of 20,000 baht each for trespassing and violating the emergency decree in force at the time.

They included Maj Gen Chamlong, Sondhi Limthongkul, Pibhop Dhongchai, Somsak Kosaisuk, Suriyasai Katasila, Sirichai Mai-ngam and Samran Rodphet.

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