The Appeals Court upheld the Criminal Court’s acquittal of 21 former key members of the now defunct People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) activist group today. They were accused of laying siege to the parliament to prevent then Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat from delivering his policy statement in 2008.
The 21 led thousands of protesters in an occupation of Government House between October 5 and 7, 2008, to protest against the government. The protesters later laid siege to parliament.
According to the prosecutors’ charge sheet, the protesters threatened to kidnap the president of the parliament and the Senate speaker, forcing a number of senators to flee parliament. Some parliamentary officials were illegally detained by the protesters, who were also accused of assaulting police on duty at parliament.
The Appeals Court ruled, however, that the PAD protest was peaceful and legitimate and the protesters merely wanted to oppose an allegedly corrupt administration.
The court also cited the view of the National Human Rights Commission, that the police had violated human rights by firing an excessive amount of tear gas against the protesters, who were mostly peaceful. As such, the court confirmed the acquittals.
One of the 21 PAD leaders, Prapanth Koonmee, said he wanted to ask for justice from the attorney general by not appealing this decision in the Supreme Court.