By THE NATION
RED-SHIRT leaders and democracy activists yesterday voiced disappointment over the rejection of their appeals by relevant authorities within the justice system.
Nattawut Saikua, secretary-general of the red-shirt umbrella group United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), reacted emotionally yesterday to the decision of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) turning down a petition by UDD leaders.
The petition had urged the NACC to review its earlier decision not to prosecute former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his ex-deputy Suthep Thaugsuban for malfeasance in connection with the crackdown on red-shirt protesters in 2010.
The petition presented no new evidence to warrant a review, the agency’s secretary-general, Warawit Sukboon, said yesterday to explain the rejection.
He said if the UDD came up with new evidence before the case’s statute of limitation expired, they could seek a review of the original NACC decision.
Nattawut, who was present at the NACC press conference yesterday, said he did not think the agency’s decision was fair to the people killed during the street protests.
“My heart does not believe the decision is fair. As a human being, I can’t accept it.
“I am pained,” said the red-shirt leader, who is also a Pheu Thai Party politician.
The UDD leaders would collect new evidence and petition the NACC again, said Nattawut. They would gather at least 20,000 signatures and petition the Supreme Court through the Parliament president for an investigation into the NACC’s conduct.
“That will be done when we have an elected government,” Nattawut added.
Ninety-nine people were killed during the anti-government rallies held by the UDD between March and May 2010.
The victims included protesters, military and police officers, passers-by and foreign journalists.
Separately, the Supreme Court yesterday upheld earlier verdicts by the Criminal Court and the Appeals Court to reject a lawsuit filed in 2015 by a group of political activists against Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha and four other leaders of the 2014 military coup. The plaintiffs accused the five coup leaders of committing treason by abolishing the Constitution and overthrowing the three branches of government.
Anti-coup group to fight on
In rejecting the lawsuit, the Supreme Court ruled that the post-coup interim charter of 2014 gave amnesty to all the coup-makers, who were later collectively known as the National Council for Peace and Order.
The Criminal Court had cited the same reasoning in rejecting the lawsuit in May 2015 as did the Appeals Court in February 2016.
The lawsuit was filed by 15 political activists and human rights campaigners, including Sirawit Sereethiwat, Pansak Srithep, Anon Nampha and Jatupat Boonpattararaksa. Some have ties to the UDD and the red-shirt movement.
Lawyer Anon Nampha, one of the petitioners, yesterday said the reasoning put forth by the judges would encourage military commanders into thinking that staging a coup was not a criminal act.
“Today we may not win. But I hope Thai society will defeat coups in the future. The law alone can’t beat coups,” he said.
Anon said the inability to punish the coup-makers was a “collective loss” for his group.
But he said they had been successful in communicating with the public that the coup had caused damage to the country over the past four years.
He said he hoped Thai society in the future, perhaps in the next 10 or 20 years, would realise that military coups were a social scourge.
“When the time comes, we will see those coup-makers punished,” he added.
The lawyer also said that some of the fellow-plaintiffs, who are a part of the People Who Want to Vote group, also are campaigning for “pro-democracy” politicians to eliminate all the legal remnants of the coup if they get elected.
Anon has previously represented red-shirt leaders in legal cases against them stemming from street protests.