Court postpones ‘Popcorn gunman’ trial for 2nd time

The criminal court on Tuesday postponed for a second time the preliminary hearing against a suspect known as the "popcorn gunman", accused of shooting at red shirt protesters during a confrontation between the red shirts and anti-election protesters in February 2014.

According to Matichon Online, Bangkok’s Criminal Court on Tuesday morning granted the prosecutor’s request to postpone the preliminary hearing against Wiwat Yodprasit, the 24-year-old suspect indicted for attempted murder and carrying weapons during the political unrest at Laksi, northern Bangkok, on 2 February 2014.

The preliminary hearing was rescheduled to 18 May because the prosecutor wanted to escalate the attempted murder charge in the case file to a murder charge after the death of Akaew Sae-Liew, a 72-year-old street vendor, who was allegedly shot by the suspect.

This is the second time that the preliminary hearing has been postponed.

On 19 January, the prosecutor requested the court to reschedule the preliminary hearing because the collection of forensic evidence on the death of Akaew was incomplete.      

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 a confrontation between the red shirts and anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters on 2 February 2014 at Laksi intersection in Bangkok.

He was arrested by police on 20 March 2014 and was indicted by the prosecutor on 11 June 2014 for attempted murder and carrying weapons and ammunition in public, as well as breaking the emergency decree which was declared during the political unrest in 2014.

In March 2014, several sources reported that Wiwat had 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.

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