Court acquits four PDRC members on insurrection charges
The Criminal Court on Thursday acquitted four key members of the now-defunct People’s Democratic Reform Committee on insurrection charges.
The court found Sonthiyan Chuenruethainaitham, 57, Sakoltee Phattiyakul, 42, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, 68 and Seree Wongmontha, 70, not guilty of sedition related to the Bangkok Shutdown protests against the Yingluck government from May 23 2013 to May 1 2014.
The four were charged by public prosecutors with insurrection, inciting public disturbances, unlawful gathering, gathering in a group of more than 10 persons to use arms to cause disturbances and to harm others, inciting the public to stop working to pressure the government, and unlawful entries of government offices and others’ properties.
The four defendants were charged with violating Articles 113, 116, 117, 209, 210, 215, 362, 364, and 365 of the Criminal Code and with obstructing the holding of an election by the Election Commission and thus violating Articles 76, 152, and 8 of the 2007 election act. The public prosecutors filed charges against the four in the court in 2014.
The court acquitted the four defendants on the grounds that while they joined the PDRC-led protests against the Yingluck government, they were not leaders who gave orders to the protesters.
According to evidence from the public prosecutors and from the defendants, the four did not give speeches during the protests to tell demonstrators to commit violence, the court ruled.
The court also cited a ruling by the Constitutional Court on case number of 59/2556 to acquit the four. The Constitutional Court ruled that the PDRC demonstrators had constitutional rights based on Article 63 of the then charter to demonstrate out of dissatisfaction with the Yingluck administration enacting an amnesty law to try to whitewash former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The trial started in 015.
About 60 members of the former PDRC came to the court to hear the ruling.
Suthep Thaugsuban, former leader of the PDRC and a founding member of the Action Coalition for Thailand was also in court to hear the ruling and show support for the four. Suthep is facing a trial related to the protests in another case.