was not a peaceful rally. The authorities had to use force to clear the way,” the court said.
Somchai and Chavalit both hail from the political faction loyal to Thaksin, the self-exiled billionaire tycoon who sits at the heart of Thailand’s festering political divide.
Somchai, Thaksin’s brother-inlaw, was prime minister at the time of the crackdown while Chavalit had previously served as premier in the 1990s.
Thaksin was ousted by the army in 2006, setting off a decade of instability marked by frequent bouts of political violence, short-lived governments and another army putsch in 2014.
Parties run by or allied to Thaksin’s clan have won every election since 2001, largely through the support of rural and poor voters from the populous north who adore them.
But they are loathed by much of Bangkok’s royalist elite and their military allies who have used street protests, the courts and coups to crush their opponents.
During the 2008 protests it was the anti-Shinawatra faction — dubbed the “Yellow Shirts” — who were laying siege to Parliament. AFP