PDRC leaders handed suspended jail terms for 2013-14 protests
Six secondary leaders of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which led protests in Bangkok between November 2013 and May 2014, were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to five years on Friday.
The Criminal Court found the defendants – Naser Yihama, Uthai Yodmanee, Nitithorn Lamlua, Chitpas Kridakon, Pansuwan Nakaew and Prakobkit Inthong– guilty of causing public chaos and property damage, inciting strikes, and obstructing a general election.
However, the court suspended the sentences for five of the convicted defendants. It dismissed a charge of rebellion against all the defendants.
A seventh defendant, Kittisak Prokati, was found innocent of all charges.
The defendants played leading roles in the PDRC street protests under veteran politician Suthep Thaugsuban.
Suthep was earlier indicted in a separate case.
The PDRC protests and subsequent violence laid the path for the May 22, 2014 military coup that ousted the Pheu Thai-led government of Yingluck Shinawatra.
They were sparked by a government-backed bill that offered an amnesty to people facing criminal charges over political activities, including defendants in corruption and murder cases.
Jatuporn Prompan, former leader of the PDRC’s rivals, the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, appeared at the Criminal Court to offer moral support to the defendants.
Defence lawyer Sawat Charoenphol said the defendants were exercising their constitutional rights when they joined protests against the government and had not resorted to violence.
The court sentenced Naser to six months in prison, Uthai and Nitithorn to five years and nine months each plus a fine of 200,000 baht, Chitpas to nine months and a 40,000-baht fine, and Pansuwan and Prakobkit to four years and nine months each with a 180,000-baht fine.
The court suspended the sentences for two years for Uthai, Nitithorn, Chitpas, Pansuwan, and Prakobkit, ruling they had no previous criminal record and had not acted for their own benefit.
Naser was not eligible for a suspended sentence as he had a criminal record.