11 July 2024

Thailand’s Appeals Court has overturned the Criminal Court’s acquittal of former Department of Special Investigation (DSI) director-general Tharit Pengdit and sentenced him to two years in prison for abuse of power.


Three other DSI officers, Pol Lt-Col Wannapong Kotcharak, Pol Maj Yutthana Phraedum and Pol Cpt Piya Raksakul, were also found guilty by the Appeals Court and sentenced to two years for abuse of authority over their roles in filing murder charges against former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy, Suthep Thaugsuban following the crackdown on red-shirt protests in 2011/12.


The charges against the four DSI officers, under Section 157 of the Criminal Code, were filed with the Criminal Court by Abhisit and Suthep in response to the murder charges filed against the two Democrat Party leaders.

Abhisit and Suthep accused Tharit of allowing himself of to be used, by the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, to file charges against them, despite the fact that the power to do so rests with the National Anti-Corruption Commission, not the DSI.


The Appeals Court ruled that Tharit and his three subordinates abused their power in favour of the Yingluck government, in the hope it would help their careers, despite having already decided that the red-shirt protests were illegal and had subsequently charged the protest leaders with acts of terrorism.


Overturning the Criminal Court’s acquittals, the Appeals Court sentenced each of them to three years, without suspension, commuted to two years for their useful testimonies.

The four defendants are awaiting a ruling on their bail applications.