With 13 of their comrades in jail or out on bail, four more “red shirt” leaders have been hauled into court for organizing the demonstration that disrupted the 2009 ASEAN Summit in Pattaya.
United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship co-leaders Veerakarn Musikpong, Adisorn Piangket, Nattawut Saikuar and Weng Tojirakarn appeared in Pattaya Provincial Court Aug. 23 after Pattaya police filed charges against them and three others.
Suporn Attawong is ill and was given permission not to attend the hearing. Defendant Jakrapob Penkair is believed to be hiding in Cambodia, while in July 2017, UDD co-chairman Jatuporn Prompan was given one-year prison sentence for defaming former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Nattawut said the four defendants entered innocent pleas and the next hearing was scheduled for Dec. 12.
He also claimed that a lieutenant colonel in the Royal Thai Police was involved in the protest that prompted the evacuation of world leaders and postponement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit at the Royal Cliff Hotel and would be called as a witness. He said they are still waiting for the police to respond to their request.
Adisorn said he was not informed of the charges before being called to court and contested that many of those involved in the protest eight years ago were not present in court.
He, like the other UDD leaders, said their group is being persecuted by the police and government.
Pattaya Police Chief Pol. Col. Apichai Kroppech defended filing charges against the red shirts nine years later, claiming all four committed a crime on which the statute of limitations has not expired.
The charges come after 13 red shirts, including leader Arisman Pongruangrong, were jailed in Pattaya for four years when the Appeal Court upheld their lower court conviction for defying a government order prohibiting rallies of more than 10 people and violating traffic regulations in connection with the ASEAN Summit protest.
On Aug. 18, the Supreme Court granted four of the incarcerated red shirts – Payap Panket, Somyot Promma, Nisit Sinthuprai and Worachai Hema – temporary release on bail pending their appeal.