Court postpones reading of verdict on former red-shirt leaders over 2007 storming of General Prem’s residence
The Criminal Court this morning indefinitely postponed its scheduled reading of the Supreme Court’s verdict on four former core members of the red-shirt movement charged with leading protesters in the 2007 storming of the residence of General Prem Tinsulanonda, the late president of the Privy Council, after they submitted a last-minute guilty plea.
Former chairman of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), or the red shirt movement, Veerakarn Musikapong, former UDD secretary-general Natthawut Saikua, former UDD core members Dr. Weng Tochirakarn and Wiputhalaeng Pattanapumkthai simultaneously submitted their guilty plea to the Criminal Court before the reading of the final verdict of the Supreme Court.
The Criminal Court accepted their guilty plea, which will be passed to the Supreme Court for consideration. As such, the final verdict in the case has been postponed until after the Supreme Court has considered the four defendants’ guilty pleas.
Sources familiar with court procedures said that the belated guilty pleas are intended to persuade the court to impose lighter sentences on the defendants after they lost the case in two lower courts.
The defendants charged by the public prosecutors for storming the residence were Nopparut Worachitwutthikul, Veerasak Hemathulin, Wancha Naputtha, Veerakarn Musikapong, Natthawut Saikua, Wiputhalaeng Pattanapumithai and Dr. Weng Tojirakarn. The charges include illegal public assembly of more than ten people, inciting public unrest with weapons, using force to assault other people and resisting authorities with coercion.
The Criminal Court sentenced Nopparut to two years and eight months, while Veerakarn, Natthawut, Wiputhalaeng and Dr. Weng were given four years and four months each. Wanchai and Veerasak were acquitted.
The Appeals Court, however, commuted the sentences for Veerakarn, Natthawut, Wiputhalaeng and Dr. Weng to two years and eight months and upheld the two years and eight months prison term for Nopparut.
The Supreme Court was scheduled to read its verdict on July 31st, but had postponed the reading to today (Monday) at the request of some of the defendants.
Dr. Weng said in his Facebook post this morning that he is willing to accept the verdict of the Supreme Court, adding that he was proud to fight for democracy and to be a part of the pro-democracy movement.
Natthawut, meanwhile, told the media before entering the court room that he was not worried about the outcome of the Supreme Court’s verdict and would be ready to accept it, claiming that the political activities of the red-shirt movement were not intended to provoke violence, but to promote democratic rule with the King as the head of state.