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Thai court convenes for terrorism charges vs red shirts

Publication Date : 10-08-2012

 

The Criminal Court yesterday convened a hearing and heard testimonies for and against revoking bail for 24 red-shirt leaders who are being tried on terrorism charges in connection with the 2010 political strife in Thailand.

Following the hearing, the court said it would hand down its bail ruling on August 22. After the completion of the hearing, the defence sought and received permission to submit additional evidence.

In an earlier decision, the court ruled to defer the bail hearing for five of the 24 defendants on grounds that they had parliamentary immunity.

The hearing for the five has been rescheduled to November 22, following the House adjournment.

The five are Deputy Agriculture Minister Natthawut Saikua and Pheu Thai MPs Weng Tojirakarn, Kokaew Pikulthong, Vipoothalaeng Pattanaphumthai and Karun Hosakul.

In his capacity as a complainant, Democrat MP Nipit Intarasombat testified that defendant Yoswarit Chooklom, aka Jeng Dokjik, had violated his bail conditions with his rally speech attacking the Constitution Court over its review of the charter-amendment bill.

Nipit said Yoswarit had urged the red shirts to "visit" the homes of the high court's judges after disclosing the addresses and telephone numbers of the judges and their family members.

He said the judges later revealed receiving a surge of hate calls. Yoswarit's remarks could be construed as inciting the masses to harass and intimidate, which in his opinion violated the conditions for temporary release.

Following his testimony, the defence team submitted a motion to postpone the hearing on Yoswarit on grounds that the complainant had just submitted evidence, including an audio clip of Yoswarit's speech. The defence wanted to examine whether the clip was doctored before presenting rebuttals.

The presiding judges denied the defence motion on grounds the rally speeches were public records accessible to all sides.

Yoswarit then took the witness stand to testify in his defence. The gist of his statement was that the complainant was not an injured party in connection with his rally speech or his trial on terrorism, hence should not be entitled to question his compliance with bail conditions.

He recounted that he was a comedian before joining the red-shirt movement.

"It is natural that my remarks should mirror my sense of humour," he said, voicing his belief that he has the right to be critical of an independent organisation like the high court.

He said his supporters had given him the telephone numbers, which they found on the Internet. He distributed those numbers without verification.

He said he had realised his mistake and stepped on the rally stage to issue his apology before asking the red shirts not to call and harass the judges.

"I swear I will never do it again," he said, pleading for leniency.

He asked the court to grant leniency in order to allow him to continue serving the public in his position of assistant ministerial secretary at the Interior Ministry.

Testifying after Yoswarit was defendant Veera Musigapong. His main defence was that he had no involvement in the red-shirt rally that attacked the high court.

Jatuporn Promphan was the next defendant to testify. He told the court that each leader had free rein in rally speeches without having to consult or seek approval from one another.

He said in his speech, he just outlined his thoughts on how the high court had violated charter provisions by intervening in the legislative process to amend the charter.

After he and other red-shirt leaders filed a motion to impeach the judges, the rally dispersed without incident.

He said the high court had filed a police complaint accusing some 80 individuals of intimidation but left out his name.

He also said that in his speech, he might have used strong language to sway sentiment, but none of his words was meant to incite violence.

The remaining defendants told the court that they were not speakers at the rally in question.

 

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