Verdicts in CentralWorld arson case tomorrow
The Southern Bangkok Criminal Court, tomorrow, will hand down a verdict in relation to the arson attacks during the 2010 political turmoil.The two defendants, Saichon Paebua and Pinit Channarong, are being tried for torching CentralWorld in the wake of the dispersal of the red-shirt rally at Ratchaprasong.
The public prosecutors contend that the two violated the emergency law in order to raid and set fire to the shopping mall on May 19, 2010.
Some 270 business proprietors in the mall reported Bt8.8 billion in damage caused by fire and vandalism.
The prosecution is seeking penalties for arson and offences under the emergency law and Articles 217, 218 and 224 of the Criminal Code.
The defendants entered a not-guilty plea against all charges.
The defence called a political office holder and red-shirt leader, Sangiam Samranrat, as a character witness for Saichon.
Sangiam told the court that Saichon was his employee and had an exemplary job record as a guard at a shopping mall on Lat Phrao Road.
Fire-fighting expert Chumpol Boonprayoon testified for the defence that the CentralWorld fire happened despite stringent safety measures.
Some 14 unidentified men raided the shopping mall but about 180 security guards chased them out.
In the second wave of attacks, about seven to eight armed men, who looked like soldiers out of uniform, threw grenades at the security guards prompting police intervention.
After police forced the attackers out of the premise, the security guards suspended their duty at 4.40pm due to concerns for their safety.
Around 7pm, fire-fighters were alerted to the fire but could access the scene only after 10pm.
The building collapsed around 9pm due to the fire while the soldiers, who guarded the scene, looked on.
The arson trial began in September 2010. The prosecution called its witnesses between June 2011 and November 2012. The defence witnesses testified from December 2012 to January 2013.
In separate trial, the seven armed men involved in the raid were acquitted for robbery but convicted for violating the emergency decree.
Six of the seven were sentenced to serve six months in jail. The final convict, found guilty of the additional charge of stealing mobile phones, received the total jail term of three years and six months.