Court dismisses case of homeless scavenger arrested under Emergency Decree

The case of a homeless scavenger has been dismissed by the court after over 5 months’ detention in prison.

On 29 Oct, Pathumwan Municipal Court dismissed the case against Somphol Wangprasert who was prosecuted for violating the Emergency Decree by conspiring with four or more other people to gather and instigate public unrest and using roads prohibited under the decree.

Somphol, a homeless scavenger living near Hua Lamphong, was arrested on 16 May by military troops when he was on his way to the National Stadium to play takraw.

In its ruling, the court gave the defendant the benefit of the doubt, as it found several dubious points in the indictment. 

-    Given the location of the military checkpoint at Soi Chula 12, the defendant could have used several routes to reach the National Stadium, and he did not necessarily have to come from the direction of the rally at Ratchaprasong. 

-    The officials who made the arrest did not see which route the defendant had in fact taken.  In that area, there still were people passing by, because there was no announcement to prohibit people leaving their homes. 

-    The defendant was found to have come alone, was not found to have any connection with the red shirts, nor found to have any weapons. 

-    The date of the arrest as claimed by the military to be on the night of 15 May contradicted to the testimony of the defendant who said that he was arrested late in the morning of 16 May, and the court found that in the indictment the date had apparently been erased and changed.