EC trio's supporters jailed
Four imprisoned for contempt after rowdy protest outside court last week
On bail of Bt20,000 each: Mahamakut Buddhist University lecturer Sathien Wiphromha, left, Mali Netkham, above, and Renu Jitprasan and Thitirat Surattanakulchai.
Four supporters of the former election commissioners were jailed yesterday for contempt of court in an unprecedented ruling by the Criminal Court yesterday.
The jail terms followed rowdy scenes at the court when the "EC Three" were convicted last week.
Sathien Wiphromha, an activist and lecturer at Mahamakut Buddhist University, was punished with a three-month jail term. Three other defendants, all women, were ordered to serve one month in jail and fined Bt500 each. They are Renu Jitprasan, Thitirat Surattanakulchai and Mali Netkham.
The convicted defendants were later released on bail of Bt20,000 each, pending an appellate review.
Yesterday's ruling came amid major political cases involving the country's largest political parties, Thai Rak Thai and Democrats, which face dissolution if found guilty of electoral fraud, and involve the disgraced ex-members of the Election Commission.
The judiciary has been under the spotlight recently for making landmark rulings in key political cases. These include separate rulings by the Constitution and Administra-tive Courts to invalidate the April 2 snap election, and the jail sentences handed down by the Criminal Court last Tuesday on EC chief Vasana Puemlarp and his colleagues Prinya Nakchudtree and Virachai Naew-boonnien for malfeasance.
The latter ruling led to the contempt cases against 15 people.
The Criminal Court yesterday found the 15 defendants guilty of being involved in rowdy scenes when the court delivered its verdict against the EC Three.
Chat Thai Party deputy leader Chuwit Kamolvisit, a staunch EC critic, and 11 other defendants received a one-year suspended sentence for contempt of court.
The 15 rallied - either as supporters or opponents - of the election commissioners.
The judicial verdict was based on testimonies of the 15 as well as tele-vision news clips.
Chuwit was seen carrying fried rice and iced coffee to visit the jailed commissioners before bickering with their supporters.
The court cited his confession and remorse as grounds for leniency to suspend his sentencing.
"This court has factored in the remorse shown by the accused [Chuwit] and deems it appropriate to grant him a chance to reform himself," the court ruled.
The court ruling will not prevent Chuwit from running in the upcoming election.
Six other defendants received the same leniency granted to Chuwit. They were Lawan Suthichaisiri, Walaiporn Phanbubpha, Thamaros Sunthornphol, Yuthana Chaisinson, Wanna Maisrithong and Thana-phan Prathomsao.
Four other defendants were ordered to serve one month in jail and pay a fine of Bt500, but their terms were then suspended for one year. They were Somchai Ratthuay, Sermsak Ekkawat, Somyos Duan-patra and Suchada Ruamsilp.