A verdict on the crackdown of PAD protesters in 2008 due on August 2

The Supreme Court's criminal division for political office holders is to hand down a verdict on the case regarding the forced dispersal of protesters of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) at the parliament in 2008 by then government of prime minister Somchai Wongsawat on August 2.

On trial by the court for allegedly responsible for the October 7, 2008 crackdown in which two protesters died and over 400 injured are Mr Somchai, former deputy prime minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, former police chief Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwon and former metropolitan police commissioner Pol Lt-Gen Suchart Muenkaew.

Hearing of the case concluded on Friday (June 30) with Mr Somchai making a closing statement. He said it was necessary, in accordance with the Constitution, for him to go to the parliament to deliver a policy statement that day, but he was blocked by the PAD protesters, leading to a confrontation between the protesters and officials and eventual breakout of violence.

The former prime minister insisted that none of the orders issued then to deal with the protesters were against the law as he denied all the charges against him, including malfeasance in office in accordance with Section 157 of the Criminal Code and ordering a crackdown of the protesters.

He further said that he disallowed officials to use tear gas against the protesters and he had no intention whatsoever to cause harms to the protesters.

Mr Somchai recalled that one day before the bloody riot, he had met all relevant officials to discuss the situation which protesters laid siege to the Parliament, but no decision was reached to order the suppression.

He claimed that his action indicated that he had no intention to create violence, and stressed that he had performed his duty with honesty and without any discrimination.

Five defence witnesses also gave their testimonies to the court in the last hearing.

One of the witnesses, Pol Maj-Gen Puvadol Wutthakanok, deputy commander of personnel and ordnance division, admitted that tear gas was used against the protesters but it was meant to protect state property.

According to the laws, if the defendant is ruled guilty under Section 157, he will face 1-10 years in jail, and a fine of 2,000-20,000 baht, or both. However if they are ruled not guilty, they will be acquitted of the charges and go free.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)