The masked gunman who was seen shooting at redshirt supporters with an assault rifle concealed in a popcorn bag during an anti-government riot in February 2014 was acquitted of the crimes he earlier confessed.
The ruling that the Popcorn gunman was innocent by the Appeals Court today was a reversal of earlier ruling by the Criminal Court that sentenced Vivat Yodprasert, known among demonstrators as the popcorn gunman to more than 37 years in prison for murder and attempted murder at the riot at Laksi intersection as a result of a high profile protest during the Bangkok Shutdown rally in 2014.
The Appeals Court reasoned that although the defendant has confessed to the crimes he committed, there was no witnesses to identify him as the Popcorn gunman, although the physical description of the gunman was identical to the defendant.
As the evidence produced by the state prosecutor was weak and there was no witnesses to identify him as gunman, the court then dropped all the charges imposed on him by the prosecution.
However the court said the defendant would still be detained pending appeal.
Vivat or Top Yodprasit, now 26, was found guilty of possessing guns and ammunition without permission, carrying guns and ammunition in public places without permission and carrying guns in areas under an emergency decree, and shooting at other protesters.
The first court sentenced him to life imprisonment but commuted the sentence to 37 years and four months for his confession.
He earlier confessed he was paid 300 baht/day as wage to provide security for the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) rallies.
On February 1, 2014, Phra Buddha Isara led a group of protesters to Laksi district office to block another group of people attempting to bring election ballots out of the office. But police stopped the group fearing that they might run into the protesters resulting to violence.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)