Court up­holds jail for red-shirt pro­test­ers

Bangkok Post - - FRONT PAGE - POST RE­PORTERS

The Supreme Court up­held the rul­ing of the two lower courts yes­ter­day, sen­tenc­ing red-shirt mem­ber Aris­man Pon­gru­an­grong and 11 oth­ers to four years in prison over the riot that shut down the 2009 Asean Sum­mit in Pat­taya.

An­other de­fen­dant, Somyos Promma, was acquitted. The court ruled he was only a pro­tester tak­ing part, not an or­gan­iser of the raid. The rul­ing was read out in the Pat­taya Pro­vin­cial Court in Pat­taya, where the at­tack took place.

Thai­land was the Asean chair­man at the time and the sum­mit was hastily can­celled due to the in­cur­sion by United Front for Democracy against Dic­ta­tor­ship (UDD) mem­bers de­ter­mined to oust then-prime min­is­ter Ab­hisit Ve­j­ja­jiva.

In its rul­ing, the court found all 12 de­fen­dants guilty as charged for their roles in the protest at the Royal Cliff Beach Re­sort Ho­tel, which forced the hasty evac­u­a­tion of re­gional lead­ers and the post­pone­ment of the sum­mit.

Sakda Nop­p­a­sit, the deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Puea Chat Party, was the only de­fen­dant in the court­room for the rul­ing. The court is­sued ar­rest war­rants for the oth­ers to serve their jail terms.

One of the con­victed de­fen­dants is Waipot Aporn­rat, a Palang Pracharath Party MP for Kam­phaeng Phet province. Pol Lt Col Waipot was seen at par­lia­ment af­ter the court read its rul­ing, but later left.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Wis­sanu Krea-ngam, the cab­i­net’s le­gal ex­pert, said af­ter the sen­tenc­ing that Waipot’s MP sta­tus and po­lit­i­cal immunity ended with the fi­nal rul­ing be­cause the court did not sus­pend any of the jail terms.

A by-elec­tion would be needed in Con­stituency 2 of Kam­phaeng Phet, he added. The storm­ing of the Asean Sum­mit venue oc­curred on April 11, 2009, dur­ing the Ab­hisit Ve­j­ja­jiva gov­ern­ment.

Pros­e­cu­tors charged the group with de­fy­ing an or­der pro­hibit­ing a rally of more than 10 peo­ple and vi­o­lat­ing traf­fic reg­u­la­tions. The Pat­taya Pro­vin­cial Court, in 2015, found them guilty and sen­tenced each of them to four years in jail, with­out sus­pen­sion.

The Ap­peal Court up­held the rul­ing two years later.

SAROT MEKSOPHAWA­NNAKUL

This file photo shows red-shirt pro­test­ers storm­ing the Royal Cliff Re­sort in a bid to dis­rupt the Asean Sum­mit in Pat­taya in 2009.

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