Yellowshirt activists facing charges, including for sedition, petition for protests to be validated.
A GROUP of political activists has planned a petition to the Constitutional Court, seeking a verdict to confirm that anti-government rallies in the past were constitutional as they had been ruled by the court to be peaceful and lawful.
The move yesterday followed legal actions and lawsuits against leaders of anti-government protests in the past, including those from the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).
Leaders of those rallies, which opposed separate governments led by then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his political allies, are facing charges of severe offences such as sedition and terrorism, as well as court orders for them to pay several million baht in compensation.
Lawyer Prayong Chaisri, who represents the group called Yutithampiwat, or “Justice Revolution”, yesterday said the Constitutional Court had ruled that those demonstrations were lawful, but legal action had still been taken. “The right to hold public demonstrations is guaranteed by the Constitution. But police and public prosecutors often took legal action against protesters,” the lawyer said.
“The Constitutional Court ruled that the protests were carried out within the legal limits protected by the Constitution. And the court’s verdicts must be binding to all the state agencies,” he added.
The group will submit its petition to the Constitutional Court next Monday, when the accompanying documents are ready, according to the lawyer.
The group consists of 20 people led by former national police chief Pratin Santiprapob and PAD leader Somkiat Pongpaiboon, who went to the Constitutional Court yesterday.
Somkiat said yesterday that the group simply wanted confirmation from the Constitutional Court that the PAD protests were peaceful and unarmed, so they were in line with the charter. He added that verdicts by the court were binding for all state agencies.
“We just want mercy from the Constitutional Court again. It is up to the court what they will decide,” he said.
Separately, the Supreme Administrative Court yesterday ordered the Royal Thai Police to pay compensation to PAD protesters injured in the police crackdown in October 2008. At that time, protesters were gathering outside Parliament to prevent then-prime minister Somchai Wongsawat from entering and delivering a policy statement.
The court yesterday ruled that the Royal Thai Police must pay each of the plaintiffs between Bt7,120 and Bt4.15 million, plus interest, for the physical and property damage inflicted. That was a 20-per-cent decrease from the compensation granted by a lower court.
However, the Supreme Administrative Court yesterday acquitted the Prime Minister’s Office, which was a co-defendant, on grounds that the agency should not be held responsible for the damages.
A total of 261 people had filed the case as plaintiffs, but the court yesterday ordered the police to pay compensation to 254.
Tee Saetiao, one of the plaintiffs, said yesterday that he was “very pleased” with the court verdict. He added that injuries sustained from the crackdown had made his life difficult and his family was struggling.
Lawyer Boonthani Kittisinyothin, who represented the plaintiffs in the case, said yesterday that he expected the Royal Thai Police to pay the compensation within 60 days.