By The Nation
The 21 leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) had been accused of five crimes, including sedition.
The lawsuit stemmed from an October 2008 protest in which they led thousands of protesters to besiege the Parliament compound and block parliamentary members, Cabinet ministers and the then-prime minister, Somchai Wongsawat, from entering the chamber.
The demonstration escalated into a clash between security officers and protesters, resulting in injuries and damage to parliamentary properties.
Among the 21 found not guilty were five core PAD leaders who had already been imprisoned for other charges related to anti-government demonstrations at the time, including former media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul.
The court ruled that the political speeches made during the October 2008 protest had only been informative, providing facts concerning relations between the Somchai government and fugitive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra and their attempt to bring Thaksin back to Thailand.
Hence, the protest was deemed to have been peaceful and protected by constitutional rights as a way to scrutinise politicians by giving information to the people, the court said in acquitting the 21 protest leaders of the charges against them.