Prosecute the PAD

sondhi chamlong

[Die rechtliche Verfolgung der Taten der PAD]

According to news from Thailand this week [of December 18], police are set to lay charges against protestors responsible for blockading parliament after the leader of the main opposition party finally succeeded in becoming prime minister without having to win an election.

News reports said that police were compiling video footage and other evidence of demonstrators that threw rocks at vehicles, assaulted passerby, damaged public property and kept parliamentarians trapped within the legislature.

These are serious offences and if the police have the evidence they need, they should certainly try to prosecute. But the crimes of this group pale by comparison to the scale of criminality demonstrated by their opponents, those who occupied Government House for three months from August, and the two main airports for a week from the end of November.

In fact, the number of serious crimes committed under the banner of the group calling itself the People’s Alliance for Democracy is so large that it’s hard to imagine police officers even having time to investigate the melee outside parliament on Monday.

From all accounts, parts of the prime minister’s offices had over the three months that they were besieged been completely ransacked. The occupiers stole computers, televisions and the personal items of public servants. They raided arsenals and made off with pistols and, possibly, semi-automatic weapons.

They vandalized furniture and the buildings themselves, smashing and ripping chairs and wallpaper. They drove off a number of cars and motorcycles, and took religious statues and amulets.

The costs to the government will run into millions of dollars. To replace damaged and missing computer equipment alone is expected to be over a million, although bureaucrats could perhaps save some money by repurchasing the stolen items as they appear in secondhand markets around Bangkok during the coming days and weeks.

The damage was not only financial. According to several reports, a number of high-security computer hard disks, including servers, were among those items that have disappeared. So far there have been no public reports on the precise contents of these, or the threats posed to the government and public by their falling into private hands.

That’s what was taken. Then there’s what was left behind. The list allegedly includes hundreds of homemade explosives of various types, including Molotov cocktails, firecrackers, and fertilizer and ping pong bombs. There were also bottles of acid, and large numbers of assorted objects to use as weapons, including golf clubs, iron bars, and slingshots with various types of pellets.

Oh, yes, and there was a dead body at Don Muang airport, stuffed into a plastic bag out back. According to news reports, the unidentified man had apparently been dead for some days and had been assaulted before he died. He may have been one of the proxy police force that patrolled the perimeters of occupied buildings and interrogated, detained and assaulted other citizens.

Others left for dead survived. Among them, a 26-year-old man was reported to have been found near the international airport on the night of December 1, stripped naked and shot in the neck. At time of the report, he had been unable to speak about what had happened.

Although it may take the police some time to sift through the mountains of evidence in order to bring charges against people accused of these offences, the ringleaders and some of the most visible perpetrators could be legally brought in any time.

There has been some talk about the possibility of charging them with terrorism, which under the penal code consists of acts of violence causing danger to life or liberty, serious damage to transport and communications, or acts effecting significant economic damage with intent to threaten the government.

By these criteria, the people who took over state premises and killed—or attempted to kill—and illegally detained other citizens have, on the surface of it, committed terrorist acts.

But there are innumerable other sections in the code under which they could be charged.

Why not begin with the usual bundle of offences that is thrown at protestors? That includes trespass, coercion, upsetting the peace, confinement and damaging public property. Police usually routinely start with these, whether they have any evidence or not.

Then there are all of the other ordinary criminal offences, including murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, bodily harm, theft, mischief, and destroying or stealing official documents or materials, which carries a three-year jail term; or criminal conspiracy, which carries five.

After that, there’s still the chapter of offences against internal security. These include attempts to change the law or government through violence, the raising of civil unrest to upset public tranquility, or the inciting of the people to violate the law, all of which carry a seven-year sentence. The PAD leadership seems to have met every one of those criteria too.

And there are many other assorted crimes that remain besides. For instance, refusing police access to sites where bomb blasts occurred they seem to have violated section 138, on obstructing officials from performing their duties. That section has a penalty of two years. If threatening officials with violence at the same time, four years; if doing the same with arms or in a group of three or more, five years. And so it goes on.

There is no shortage of crimes, perpetrators, evidence and penalties with which to bring the PAD to book. What is lacking is only the legal and political will to do it.

The gang outside parliament this week threatened the building and its occupants. The gang that took over government house and the airports has threatened what that building and its occupants represent. As a matter of urgency, the police must prosecute both. But their unmistakable priority must be the latter. Prosecute the PAD.

Source: Prosecuting Thailand’s PAD

See also: Police must prosecute Government House occupiers (AHRC)

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8 responses to “Prosecute the PAD

  1. I don’t believe in news report about plan to prosecute PAD especially when the person who announce the plan was Abhisit. It is a big joke for this new govt who is nominee of the Thai military. How come Abhsit would prosecute PAD when his own foreign minister is a PAD top leader. Abhisit’s words are not to be trusted because both PAD and Democrat Party are in fact birds of a feather which flock together.

  2. the new “Democrat” PM has announced that charges will be laid against the PAD… muted cheers and someone commented that the PAD has not complained about the announcement…

    its a deal, charges will be laid for damages (which they wont have to pay)….

    but where are the criminal charges… thats the deal, the PAD will not have to go to gaol

    the PAD LEADERS SHOULD BE CHARGED AS CRIMINALS AND THROWN IN GAOL!!!!!!

    Meanwhile I agree that the law should be invoked against all that are alleged to have broken the law

    it doesnt matter what colour… all incidents should be subject to impartial investigation and cases brought as the prosecutors are able to get the evidence together

    because Thai courts are so prone to manipulation and are generally dishonourable in their judgements I would prefer that the Thai legal system adopt trila by jury, for the judges sake as well as ordinary Thai people… and that international observers be invited oth for elections and also for court cases

    having said all that, any justice will be better than none

    the recent National Human Rights final report on the Oct 7 PAD protest at parliament house has revealed video evidence that a particular police swat team member was responsible for direct firing of tear gas at protesters which proves that a solid investigation, presumably leading to court cases can be valuable in laying to rest wild rumours and innuendo that has accompanied this event until now… I hope the origin of the dangerous tear gas and other events like the PAD guard leader that apparently killed himself when his vehicle exploded

    the cases where M79s are claimed to have caused deaths and injuries of PAD members also deserves full investigation… just to determine who and where the projectiles were launched, whether the circumstances of “breaking through the canvas awnings” is true as claimed, what the relationship is with the bomb factories that PAD guards and their military advisors were associated with, etc, etc

    yes, please investigate and charge, all parties, all events

  3. Red Shirts March on Suvarnabhumi, Are Promptly Shot: Survivors baffled at failure of “tested” strategy
    NOT The Nation

    BANGKOK – In an failed attempt to protest the new Democrat-led coalition government, several thousand supporters of the court-dissolved People’s Power Party marched on Suvarnabhumi International Airport yesterday with the apparent intention of occupying it in a peaceful act of civil disobedience, and were promptly shot by police.

    The protesters, a loose coalition of PPP supporters, Thaksin loyalists, former members of the upcountry Coalition of the Poor, and various moderates who disagreed with the recent actions of the PAD, formed a large group on the inbound traffic lanes about 2km from the main terminal. Dressed in red and holding aloft signs and placards bearing messages accusing the army of a “silent coup” and the PAD of being anti-democratic, the protesters walked towards the terminal, where a line of airport police supported by riot troops from the BMA immediately opened fire on them with automatic weapons.

    No one from the protesting group returned fire, and after about 12 minutes of continuous shooting and reloading the police ran out of ammunition. No police were injured, although one gunnery sergeant complained of fatigue. He was later visited by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit in hospital.

    Casualties are estimated at 4,867, including 344 children. Forensic investigators have concluded that most of the deaths were caused by gunshot wounds, though the source of the bullets will have to be further investigated before responsibility can be assigned. A spokesperson for the police insisted that the department acted responsibly and in self-defense. “These agitators, possibly communists, were approaching the airport, which is a highly secure area,” he explained. “Any act of violent unauthorized intrusion that disrupts international transport is a terrorist act and we are authorized to use deadly force.”

    Prior to the shooting, protesters expressed confidence that the civil disobedience would be successful. “If the PAD can shut down the airport, so can we,” one woman was quoted as saying. “The police have already proven themselves impotent and fearful of a well-organized group of protesters.”

    While a number of international media outlets have strongly criticized the shooting, referring to it as a “massacre” and “bloodbath of the most autocratic kind” the Thai media have unanimously sided with the police, including editorials in Thai Rath and Matichon expressing hope for the new “strong rule of law.” An army spokesperson has also expressed solidarity with the Royal Thai Police, citing the fact that “no one is above the law and criminals must be dealt with harshly.”

    Newly chosen prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva expressed condolences to the families of the dead, but was measured in his comments. “Great violence has been perpetrated by extremists on both sides,” he said. “And great losses are felt by both sides. Isaan has lost thousands of its citizens, and Bangkok has lost many of its valued domestic servants.”

    Surviving protesters expressed shock and outrage at the police shooting. “This unprovoked act of violence proves that the government is a sham,” said Truth Today host Veera Musigapong, who was shot in the leg. “Such cold-blooded, extrajudicial killings of unarmed persons would never have taken place under Thaksin.”

  4. Thank you A.T.. You have renewed my faith in reporters. It is rewarding to see such honest, upstanding, and thoroughly un-biased reporting. Long may your Blue Banner wave.

  5. Things Can Move Fast
    Bangkok Pundit | 3/09/2009

    Bangkok Post:

    The Criminal Court on Thursday issued arrest warrants for six of seven suspects accused of assaulting a soldier during the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) protest in front of Government House on Feb 26.

    The six are charged under the criminal code with assaulting Sgt Amnuay Thongrin while he was performing his duty during the anti-government rally last month.

    Two of the suspects are identified by their full names, while another two are known only by their nick names. The names of the other two suspects are still unknown.

    The court did not issue an arrest warrant for the seventh suspect, because of insufficient evidence.

    BP: A mere week to issue arrest warrants. What speed! Now, BP doesn’t agree with the arrest warrant being issued, but there seems to be discrepancy where police officers are run over by vehicles and stabbed whereas any serious assault of a soldier results in arrest warrants being promptly issued (no summons?). No word yet on whether any PAD supporters have been charged for assaulting any government officials. Current predictions estimate that such arrest warrants will be issued sometime in the in the afternoon of the next life (ชาติหน้าตอนบ่ายๆ).

  6. 21 PAD leaders hear their charges

    By: BangkokPost.com
    Published: 30/03/2009 at 10:03 AM

    All 21 leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) reported to hear the charges against them at the Royal Thai Police Sports Club at 9am on Monday.

    They are charged with conspiring with more than 10 people to cause social disturbance, obstructing the work of the authorities and detaining officials.

    The charges relate to the PAD’s seizure of Government House on Oct 7 last year.

    Many yellow-shirt PAD supporters were present to show their support for the 21 core members and 300 police were assigned there to ensure they behaved themselves.

    There were reports another thousand of PAD supporters from eight northern provinces may enter Bangkok to cheer on their group’s leaders, but they would try to avoid confronting the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) protesters.

  7. Awzar,

    perhaps you need to update this subject already: I remember BP blog has posted that Courts has already dismissed the cases about PAD due to some silly reason that PAD “has already vacated occupied buildings” (GH, airports).

    and the fact that now PAD has formed a political party, with Somsak a leader and Suyuasai a secretary general also tells a lot – that these 2 criminals are not only gonna be persecuted, but also allowed to be an executives in a Political party ! and they are given time on national TV channels, and space in the preinted media to talk about their party.

    at the same time one can’t see the same facilities provided for UDD / DAAD, or cases dropped against their leaders.

    so, bias is too obvious.

    as there is a saying among the expats living in LOS (“Land of Smiles”), especially this prhase is used a lot on thaivisa forum :

    This Is Thailand

    or they simply write acronym : TIT

    and this word explains everything – like, whatever would be considered extraordinary and impossible or outrageous elsewhere, in Thailand it is Ok and normal, because : TIT

  8. Kasit, PAD leaders charged

    AIRPORT CLOSURE CASE TO GO TO COURT; PROTEST GROUP WILL DENY COUNTS
    Published: 5/07/2009 at 12:00 AM
    Bangkok Post

    People’s Alliance for Democracy leaders and other key supporters have been charged with aviation law breaches for closing the city’s two airports, Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi, during their drive to oust the government last year.

    Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya

    Among those charged with closing Suvarnabhumi airport is Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.

    According to the Manager Online website, 16 people, including PAD leaders Sondhi Limthongkul, Chamlong Srimuang, Somsak Kosaisuk, Somkiat Pongpaibul and Pibhop Dhongchai have been charged with criminal offences in relation to the airport blockades, the most serious carrying the death penalty.

    Mr Somsak is now leader of the New Politics Party, the political arm of the PAD.

    Retired Gen Prathompong Kesornsuk has been charged in relation to blockades at both airports.

    Eleven other people have been charged in relation to the Don Mueang airport occupation, and nine face charges in relation to the protest at Suvarnabhumi.

    On July 1, Don Muang police and police from Rajathewa station in charge of Suvarnabhumi in Samut Prakan’s Bang Phli district, asked those facing charges to report to authorities on July 16.

    Protesters at Don Mueang airport have been charged with four criminal offences including attempting to instigate unrest despite warnings from authorities.

    The severest punishment is seven years in jail.

    Demonstrators at Suvarnabhumi have been charged with seven offences including obstructing aviation, which can result in the death penalty if convicted.

    Protesters at Suvarnabhumi also face terrorism charges, under Article 135 of the Criminal Code, for damaging relations with other countries. The maximum penalty on that charge is life imprisonment and a 1 million baht fine.

    PAD lawyer Suwat Apipak said his clients would deny all charges. “The PAD rally was held in line with the constitution which allows public gatherings. All who face charges will report to authorities in accordance with the summons and will deny all charges,” he said.

    Mr Kasit, who is in Qatar, could not be reached for comment. He returns to Bangkok today. An official close to him said the minister would not make any decision about his future until charges are filed against him in court.

    The closure of the two airports was part of what the PAD called its “final war” against the government led by then prime minister Somchai Wongsawat.

    It included the occupation of Government House which forced his cabinet to work elsewhere, including Don Mueang.

    The PAD argued Mr Somchai was a proxy for former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose influence it has tried to expel.

    PAD supporters occupied Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports soon after they started a mass rally on Nov 23 last year.

    Airports of Thailand, the agency in charge, closed the airports for safety reasons.

    The airport closure and all rallies ended on Dec 2 when the Constitution Court disbanded Mr Somchai’s People Power Party, and coalition partners Matchimathipataya and Chart Thai for poll fraud. The Bank of Thailand estimates the damage from the airport closure cost the country 210 billion baht.

    See also: “มาร์ค”ดูความเหมาะสม “กษิต”ลั่นไม่หยุดทำงาน หลังถูกหมายเรียกร่วมพธม.”ก่อการร้าย”สนามบิน

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