Red Shirt pair set free after acquittal from CentralWorld arson


BANGKOK, March 25 – The Bangkok South Criminal Court today acquitted two suspects of charges of arson at the CentralWorld shopping complex during the May 2010 political upheaval in the Thai capital.

The two activists, Saichon Paebua and Pinit Channarong, were accused by the attorney general of setting fire to a storeroom inside CentralWorld which spread to the main commercial complex and killed an employee, identified as Kitipong Somsuk.

Mr Saichon and Mr Pinit were members of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and were simultaneously charged with breaching the Emergency Decree which was enforced during the political crisis.

The blaze at the CentralWorld took place on May 19, 2010 as military forces were dispersing  UDD Red Shirt demonstrators in Ratchaprasong – normally one of Bangkok’s busiest shopping zones.

The court said that CentralWorld security guards identified Mr Saichon and Mr Pinit as the men in the surveillance photos but it could not be confirmed that the pair carried any equipment to set fire on the building, nor did they show any behaviour of having an intention to do so.

The court acquitted both from the arson charge. Mr Saichon was however sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment for violating the Emergency Decree, but he has already served more than nine months.

He was immediately released, along with Mr Pinit, who earlier confessed to the charge of breaching the Emergency Decree.