Top red shirts buoyed by court verdict on arson
Red-shirt leaders' spirits have been lifted by the recent Ratchadaphisek Civil Court ruling that the arson attacks at CentralWorld and Zen Department Stores were not acts of terrorism while ordering Deves Insurance to pay more than Bt5 billion in compensation to Central group.
The court ruled that the attacks were not terrorism because the attackers had set the two department stores ablaze after the red-shirt leaders had called off the rally, hence the arson attacks were not politically motivated.
Besides, testimonies given to the court by the defendant Deves Insurance did not reveal that the arson attack was ordered by the red-shirt leaders.
The court ruled that the attacks followed riots, which were covered by the insurance policies that the Central group had bought from the insurance companies.
Red-shirt lawyers are seeking a copy of the court ruling in both cases to fight the terrorism case filed against them at the Criminal Court.
However, red-shirt leaders can't easily take advantage of this because cases against them have also been filed at Southern Bangkok Civil Court by people whose houses were burnt down in arson attacks. The court ruled in August 2011 that the attack was terrorism as it was aimed less at damaging assets but with a motive to oust the government. So, Southeast Insurance did not have to pay compensation as terrorism was not covered by the plaintiff's policies.
The two civil courts interpreted the 2010 red-shirt rally differently. The former believes the crisis was not terrorism, while the latter thinks it was. It's possible the two courts have different opinions on the same matter, as testimonies given during the trials could be different.
Or, different judges could have different perspectives on the same issue.
What remains to be seen is how the civil court rulings will impact the criminal case against the red-shirt leaders, even though a ruling by one court is not binding on other courts.
In criminal cases, the arson attack on CentralWorld was just one of several acts allegedly committed by the reds.
The public will have to wait and see if red-shirt chiefs will escape jail over the terrorism charges.