11 July 2024

Former cabinet minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who led the mass protests to oust the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra between November 23rd 2013 until May 1st, 2014,was sentenced to five years in prison by the Criminal Court today (Wednesday).

25 other core members of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which engineered the protests whicheventually led to a military coup, were also sentenced to prison terms.

Among the convicted are Education Minister NatapholTeepsuwan, Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta and Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam, who were sentenced to 6 years and 16 months, 7 years and 5 years respectively.  The three serving cabinet ministers were also stripped of their posts, in accordance with Section 160 of the Constitution.

All the 26 defendants were found guilty on charges ranging from incitement to rebellion in the kingdom and work stoppages by workers, illegal assembly of more than 10 people to cause unrest, intrusion into state property and disruption of an election. The court, however, dismissed the terrorism and insurrection charges on the grounds that the protests did not resort to violence.

Besides Suthep and the three ministers, those sentenced to prison terms by the court on multiple charges are ChumphonJulasai, 9 years and 24 months; Issara Somchai, 7 years and 16 months; Witthaya Kaew Paradai, 1 year suspended for two years; Aekkanat Promphan, 1 year suspended for two years; Ms.Anchalee Paireerak, 1 year suspended for two years.

Somkiat Pongpaibul, 1 year suspended for two years; Thanom Onkatephol, 1 year suspended for two years; Somsak Kosaisook, 3 years; Suvit Thongprasert or Buddha Issara, 4 years and 8months; Sathit Segal, 2 years suspended for two years; Air Marshal Watchara Riththakanee, 1 year suspended for two years; Admiral Chai Suwannaparb, 1 year suspended for two years.

Samdin Lertboon, 4 years and 16 months; Munman Kakaradee, 1 year suspended for two years; Komsan Thongsiri, 2 years; Sawit Kaewwan, 2 years; Suriyasai Katasila, 2 years; Samran Rodpetch, 2 years and 16 months; Amorn Amornrattananon, 20 months; Pichet Pattanachote, 1 year suspended for two years; Kittichai Saisa-ard, 4 months suspended for two years and Mrs.Taya Teepsuwan, 1 year and 8 months suspended for two years.

Those acquitted include Sathit Wongnongtoey, Yossak Kosaikanon, Ms. Rangsima Rodrasamee, Kaewsan Atibodhi, Paiboon Nititawan, Thawil Pleansee, General Pathompong Kesornsooj, Suriyan Thongnoo-iad, Pol Lt-Col Pattharapong Supiyapanich, Somboon Thongburan and Jermsak Pinthong.

One defendant, General Preecha Iamsuphan, died during the trial.

The 14 whose prison terms were not suspended sought bail from the court, but only six of them were had it granted, set at 600,000 baht each.  They are Somsak, Komsan, Sawit, Suriyasai, Samran and Amorn.

For Suthep, Chumphon, Buddhipongse, Issara, Thaworn, Nataphol, Buddha Issara and Samdin, the Criminal Court referred the decision to grant bail to the Appeals Court.  The eight of them had to spend a night in Bangkok remand prison before the Appeals Court will consider their bail requests tomorrow (Thursday).

Thaworn later said he will remove all his belongings from his office at the Transport Ministry tomorrow, after he is granted bail.  Regarding his conviction, he said he disagreed with the court’s decision and will appeal against it.

Mrs. Taya, Education Minister Nataphol’s wife, who was given a suspended prison sentence, said in her Facebook post that she never regretted what she did during the protests.

“Whatever will be, will be.  We did our best at the time for the Nation, the Religion and the Monarchy,” she said.