‘Popcorn’ gunman trial postponed

The criminal court postponed the preliminary hearing against a suspect charged with murder and carrying arms in public during a confrontation between the red shirts and anti-election protesters in February 2014.

The criminal court on Monday granted the prosecutor’s request to postpone the preliminary hearing against Wiwat Yodprasit, the 24 year-old suspect charged with murder and carrying weapons during the political unrest at Laksi, northern Bangkok, on 2 February 2014, on the grounds that the collection of evidence was incomplete on the death of Akaew Sae-Liew, a 72-year-old street vendor, who was allegedly shot by the suspect.

Investigation officers postponed the submission of forensic evidence related to Akaew’s death to 25 January 2015 and the preliminary hearing was postponed to 30 March.      

Wiwat is accused of being the so-called ‘popcorn gunman’, who used a popcorn sack to conceal an M16 and shot at anti-establishment red-shirt demonstrators during the confrontation between the red shirts and anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protestors on 2 February 2014 at Laksi intersection in Bangkok.

Four people were seriously injured in the shooting, one of whom, Akaew, died later in September 2014 after being paralysed for eight months.    

Wiwat was arrested by police on 20 March 2014 and was indicted by the prosecutor on 11 June 2014 for murder and carrying weapons and ammunition in public, including breaking the emergency decree which was still in force during the political unrest.

In March 2014, several sources reported that Wiwat confessed during a police press conference that he was the popcorn gunman and the police charged him with illegal possession of weapons and attempted murder. However, according to Khaosod, Wiwat only confessed that he was a PDRC guard.

Contrary to the police findings, Puangthip Boonsanong, a lawyer from the Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand (NSPRT), a group allied to the PDRC, claimed that Wiwat was a scapegoat who was tortured by the police into admitting that he was the popcorn gunman.

See related news:

Victim of Laksi shooting Akaew dies without justice



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