23 May 2024

Unless there is another postponement, tomorrow (Friday) the Criminal Court is due to read the Supreme Court’s verdict in the cases of five core members of the red-shirt movement, officially known as the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), for their alleged roles in the violent siege in 2007 of the Ban Sisao Thewet government guesthouse, which is the former residence of late Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda.

The five defendants are Mr. Veerakarn Musikapong, former UDD leader, Mr. Nopparut Worachitwutthikul, former core leader of the White Pigeon group, Mr. Natthawuth Saikua, UDD secretary-general, Mr. Wiputhalaeng Pattanaputhai and Dr. Weng Tochirakarn.

Two other defendants, Messrs. Veerasak Hemathulin and Wanchai Naputtha, were acquitted by the Criminal Court.  Their acquittal was then upheld by the Appeals Court.

The seven defendants were charged with leading red-shirt protesters to lay siege to Ban Sisao Thewet, during which some of the protesters clashed with police deployed to defend the residence.

The Criminal Court acquitted Messrs. Veerasak and Wanchai, but convicted the other five. Mr. Nopparut was sentenced to two years and eight months’ in prison and the four others got four years and four months each.

The Appeals Court upheld the two year and eight month prison term handed down to Mr. Nopparut, but reduced the sentences of the rest to two years and eight months each, without suspension.

The Supreme Court’s verdict was supposed to be read on July 31st last year, but was postponed to September 23rd, because Mr. Veerakarn reported sick and could not attend court.

Before the reading of the verdict on September 23rd, Mr. Veerakarn, Dr. Weng, Mr. Natthawut and Mr. Wiputhalaeng changed their pleas to guilty of all charges. The sudden plea reversals prompted the Criminal Court to return the case to the Supreme Court for reconsideration.

The Criminal Court set February 6th for the reading of the verdict, but it was postponed, yet again, to April 30th, then again, to tomorrow, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.