11 July 2024

Five red-shirt members of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), charged with firing six M79 grenades into the protest site of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee near the government complex in Chaengwattana five years ago, were today (Thursday) acquitted by the Criminal Court due to insufficient evidence.

The PDRC held prolonged mass protests in Bangkok in 2013-14 to demand the ouster of then Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration. The government was eventually toppled by a military coup in May 2014.

Charged by the public prosecutor were Naronhsak Plai-aram, Chatchavan Prabbamrung, Thaweechai Vichakham, Somsri Marith and Pirapong Sindhusonthichart.

According to the prosecutor’s charge sheet, the five UDD members fired six grenades from an M79 launcher into a crowd of anti-government protesters gathering near the government complex on the night of March 26th, 2014 with the intention of killing or maiming. All denied the charges during the trial, although some had confessed during their questioning by military interrogators.

The court noted that incriminating testimonies from the prosecution witnesses were based on statements from two of the defendants, namely Narongsak and Somsri and Mr. Yongyuth Boondee, one of the prosecution witnesses.

However, the court said both Narongsak and Somsri told the court during the trial that they were tortured and forced by their military captors to confess to the crime and to sign some documents without knowing their content.

After being released from detention and kept as a prosecution witness, Yongyuth claimed he didn’t confess voluntarily, according to the court.