PAD group acquitted for 2008 airport siege, fined 20,000 baht for trespassing

The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) group, who stormed and occupied airports in 2008, were acquitted by the court for their actions but were fined 20,000 baht on charges of trespassing and violation of the Emergency Decree. The verdict was delivered today at 9am at the Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Road

The case dates back to November 24-December 3, 2008, when the defendants rallied people to join a mass protest, spreading across various locations. They surrounded the VIP building at Don Mueang International Airport, installed their signal dishes near the radar signal receiver of the Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Ltd., and blocked the highway bridge of the Department of Highways. They also surrounded Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Samut Prakan province to pressure then Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat to step down.

The protest leaders, including Jatuporn Prompan, Sondhi Limthongkul, Surachai Sae Dan, Somkiat Pongpaibul, and Suriyasai Katasila, among others, attended the court hearing. However, Chamlong Srimuang and Thida Thavornseth, who were also defendants in the case, were hospitalised and attended the hearing via video conferencing.

The court spent about an hour reading the verdict, analysing that the prosecution’s evidence was substantial enough to prove that the first to fifth defendants, the seventh to thirteenth defendants, and the thirty-first defendants were guilty of trespassing and violation of the Emergency Decree. The court ruled a fine of 20,000 baht each for these charges. However, the evidence was insufficient to prove the other charges, therefore, the court dismissed them.

The PAD group insisted that their assembly was peaceful, unarmed, and constitutional. They argued that the charges filed, such as trespassing, violation of the Emergency Decree, instigating unrest, assault on officials, obstruction of official duty, and detention, were unjust as their protest was peaceful, unarmed, and constitutional. The court agreed that the assembly was peaceful, unarmed, and fell under the constitution, thus did not constitute instigating unrest or other charges except for trespassing and violation of the Emergency Decree.

On the charge of trespassing, the court viewed that the place in question was temporarily used for government meetings, and during the PAD’s march, they had entered the actual meeting room, which was seen as an intrusion into the property. Therefore, it constituted an offence of trespassing, reported KhaoSod.

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Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.

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