On 10 April, the Bangkok North Municipal Court dismissed charges against Sombat Boon-ngam-anong, leader of the Red Sunday group, for his participation in an activity held under the Emergency Decree on 18 May 2010.
He was charged with taking part in a political gathering with five or more people, blocking traffic and causing public unrest in an area declared under the Emergency Decree, for participating in an activity called ‘Naked for Life’ at Din Daeng intersection in Bangkok to call on the Abhisit Vejjajiva government to stop the violent crackdown on the red shirts.
Red-shirt activity 'Naked for Life' on 18 May 2010
According to his lawyer Phawinee Chumsri, the court said that violent incidents had already occurred, with real bullets used to kill and injure many people, and a stage had already been set before Sombat participated in the activity, and the activity was held in a peaceful manner, which is a right accorded by the constitution and cannot be derogated by the Emergency Decree, and was not meant to instigate unrest as charged.
And as Sombat was a member a subcommittee of the National Human Rights Commission which was studying the application of the Emergency Decree, he should, therefore, have been in such a gathering to make observations, the court said.
Sombat said that he had expected to be given a suspended jail sentence, similar to a previous case in which he had been found guilty for a similar alleged offence. So he was quite surprised that the court dismissed this case.
The activity obviously did not provoke violence, and on the contrary, was an attempt to make people calm down. Maybe that was why the court dismissed the case, he said, adding that he hoped that this case would set a precedent for other cases.