The Criminal Court on Monday cleared three former members of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) of involvement in a grenade attack that killed five soldiers, including Col Romklao Tuwatham, and injured many others during the violent street protests against Abhisit Vejjajiva’s government in 2010.
The court acquitted Suksek Poltue, Pornkamol Buachatkhao, alias Kanokporn Siripannapirat, a former show host for Asia Update television, and Surachai Tewarat.
The case was filed by state prosecutors and Nicha Hiranburana Tuwatham, wife of Col Romklao.
They were charged with causing explosions that led to death and injuries of other people and damage to property in violation of many sections of the Criminal Code, and having in possession explosives and firearms in breach of the Firearms and Ammunition Act.
Between Nov 19, 2009 and May 20, 2010 UDD supporters protested in the vicinity of the Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnern avenue, demanding the resignation of then-prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
On May 7, 2010 the Abhisit government declared a state of emergency in Bangkok and set up the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) to break up the huge demonstration, entrenched on Ratchadamnern avenue from Khok Wua intersection to the Democracy Monument.
On April 10, 2010 Mr Suksek and Mr Surachai allegedly had in their possession three M67 hand grenades provided by Mrs Pornkamol, who was also their financier.
On that day, they allegedly hurled two of the grenades at soldiers deployed in front of Satree Withaya School on Dinso road to break up the protest. The explosions killed five soldiers, including Col Romklao, who was deputy chief-of-staff of the 2nd Infantry Division. Other soldiers were wounded.
Col Romklao was posthumously promoted to the rank of general.
The three denied the charges.
On Monday, Mr Suksek and Mr Surachai, who are being detained in prison, were taken to the court to hear the decision. Mrs Pornkamol, who was free on bail, also appeared before the court.
In its ruling, the court said the prosecution witnesses gave doubtful statements against the defendants. Although they claimed to be close to the three defendants during the protest, they did not have their telephone numbers, did not know much about the UDD and did not have any political motivation.
The court believed they gave unfounded statements only to benefit from the witness protection programme. Their testimonies were not credible and did not carry enough weight.
Therefore, the court ruled to acquit the defendants of the charges, giving them the benefit of the doubt.
The court also said the case was a duplication of another case involving terrorism charges and the same defendants, during the same protests.
The prosecution has 30 days in which it can appeal the court’s judgement. – The Bangkok Post