UDD leaders visit red shirts newly imprisoned for 2009 Royal Cliff raid

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United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship leader Jatuporn Phromphan and others made their first check on newly imprisoned members serving four years for storming the 2009 ASEAN summit at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort.
United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship leader Jatuporn Phromphan and others made their first check on newly imprisoned members serving four years for storming the 2009 ASEAN summit at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort.

Members of the “red shirt” anti-government group made their first check on newly imprisoned members serving four years for storming the 2009 ASEAN summit at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort.

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United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship leader Jatuporn Phromphan and other members on Jan. 6 spent 30 minutes with Samroeng Prajumrua and Worachai Hema, who on Dec. 2 heard the Supreme Court uphold their earlier convictions.

Both men tried to change their pleas to guilty in order to halve their sentences, but the judges rejected the motion, saying if the two red shirts had wanted to plead guilty, they should have done so in the lower courts. The high court also reminded the pair they had failed to show for the originally scheduled reading of their sentences Sept. 11.

Also failing to show in September and then again last month was Waipot Arpornrat, a former red shirt also convicted for the hotel raid who now has switched sides to the military-backed Palang Pracharath Party. The court has issued an arrest warrant for him and he remains at large. Another reading of his sentence is set for Jan. 15.

The two new inmates join a cadre of former red shirt protesters already serving time at the Pattaya Remand Prison in Nong Plalai.

Jatuporn said all his jailed comrades are doing well except Pichet Sukjindathong, who has had health issues for years.

He said all of them have come to accept the prison philosophy of “know how to live, be patient and wait”.

Ex-UDD leader Arisman Pongruangrong and 12 others are now nearly three years into their initial four-year sentences for the April 11, 2009 protest that prompted the evacuation of world leaders via helicopter from the Royal Cliff and dealt an embarrassing blow to Thailand’s world reputation.

The Supreme Court late last year upheld their convictions as well for defying an order prohibiting rallies of more than 10 people and violating traffic regulations.

UDD members make regular checks on the well-being of red shirts in prison.