Ex-PAD leaders 'on road to bankruptcy'

Ex-PAD leaders 'on road to bankruptcy'

13 former yellow-shirt leaders ask for cash support to appeal

Yellow-shirt supporters gathered at Suvarnabhumi airport in September 2008. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Yellow-shirt supporters gathered at Suvarnabhumi airport in September 2008. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Thirteen former leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) face bankruptcy after the Appeals Court ordered them to pay around 600 million baht in compensation to Airports of Thailand for the damage they caused in 2008, according to former activist Maleerat Kaewka.

Mrs Maleerat, 61, an activist during the Oct 14, 1973 student uprising, is one of the 13 PAD leaders named defendants in a civil suit filed by the AoT over the occupation of  Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi  airports for eight days in 2008 by the PAD's yellow-shirt supporters.

The protest brought air services at the two international airports to a halt.

The 12 other defendants were -- Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang, Sondhi Limthongkul, Pibhop Dhongchai, Suriyasai Katasila, Somsak Kosaisuk, Chaiwat Sinsuwong, Somkiat Pongpaibul, Naranyu (formerly known as Saranyu) Wongkrajang, Sirichai Mai-ngam, Samran Rodphet, Thoedphum Jaidee and Amorn Amornratananont.

Mrs Maleerat, a former senator for Sakon Nakhon province, said in a message posted on her Facebook page that she was shocked upon learning recently that the Appeals Court  ordered the 13 defendants, including herself, to pay a total of 600 million baht compensation for the physical and commercial damage they caused to the AoT.

In 2008, the PAD staged a mass anti-government protest that led to the occupation of Government House by PAD protesters for 193 days.

During the protest, many protesters were killed and wounded by M79 attacks and gunfire.

In late 2008, the PAD leaders led their yellow-shirt supporters to occupy both Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports for eight days, from Nov 26, until Dec 3, 2008.  They were pressuring the Somchai Wongsawat government to step down.

The AoT filed a civil suit against the PAD leaders on Nov 24, 2009, while police charged them with terrorism.

The Civil Court on March 25, 2011 ordered the 13 leaders of the PAD to pay more than 522 million baht in compensation to AoT.

The PAD leaders appealed.

Mrs Maleerat said the Appeals Court then recently ordered them to pay the AoT 600 million baht.

"The Appeals Court's order that we, the 13, must pay 600 million baht in damages has put us on the road to bankruptcy," she wrote.

Mrs Maleerat said the former PAD leaders had only two options. The first was to take their case to the Supreme Court. In doing this they would be required to deposit a court fee of 7 million baht.

"We asked our lawyer Suwat Apaipak to defer the payment from June 26 because we don't know where we can get the 7 million baht in only four days from today (June 22).  A favourable point of this option is that our fight in the Supreme Court may take three to five years.

"The second option is for us to forego appealing to the Supreme Court and admit guilt for purposes of tort. But what would follow is we, the 13, including Maj Gen Chamlong, would face a bankruptcy suit, which may take about one year."

Mrs Maleerat said the 13 decided to take the first option - to forward the case to the Supreme Court.

"But where do we get the 7 million baht for the court fee?  This has left me in a state of shock. Please advise," she wrote.

Mrs Maleerat posted her message on Facebook before noon, saying that well wishers could assist the group in two ways - a direct transfer of money to a bank account already opened for the PAD's legal fight, or purchase coffee or tea from a company mentioned in the post. She said one person had already agreed to contribute 100,000 baht toward the group's expenses.

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