BANGKOK — A court has found a group of Redshirt protesters innocent of multiple charges related to a grenade attack on a former protest movement opposed to the Yingluck Shinawatra administration.
The Criminal Court on Thursday acquitted five Redshirts of colluding in a bomb attack on a rally site of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) on Chaengwattana Road on March 26, 2014. Judges ruled that the testimonies given by witnesses was hearsay evidence and did not support the charges.
Narongsak Plaiaram, Chatchawal Prabbamrung, Taweechai Vichakam, Somsri Marit, and Peerapong Sindhusonthichart had been charged with attempted manslaughter, possession of firearms and ammunition, handling firearms in public spaces, and causing damage to assets and property.
The prosecutor claimed that the defendants and other suspects on the run used six M79 grenade launchers to fire multiple explosive rounds into PDRC protesters who were besieging the Government Complex on Chaengwattana Road. No one was harmed in the attack as it missed the target.
Though two of the defendants, Narongsak and Peerapong, initially confessed to the charges, they later claimed these are made under duress.
Narongsak, a former Redshirt guard, was arrested on July 16, 2014 and taken into military custody while martial law was in effect. He claimed he was beaten and electrocuted, allegations which were later backed by medical examinations. Peerapong also claimed he was beaten while detained in a military base.
The three other defendants never confessed.
Despite being cleared of the charges, all defendants will remain in prison as they are being held in relation to other cases. Narongsak was convicted of firing grenade rounds into another PDRC rally site in front of Shinawatra 3 building on March 7, 2014 and was sentenced to 35 years and four months in prison.
Nearly 30 people, mostly civilians, were killed in six months of PDRC street protests against the administration of Yingluck Shinawatra from November 2013 to May 2014. Some of the fatalities took place during clashes with security forces, while others were caused by grenade attacks and drive-by shootings on protest sites at night.
The campaign against Yingluck and her government came to an end on May 22, 2014, when the military seized power in a coup d’etat, citing the need to restore peace and order to the country.