Red shirt accused of selling illegal weapons faces almost 27 years in prison

The Appeal Court sentenced an anti-establishment red shirt to almost 27 years in prison for possessing and offering to sell illegal weapons.

On 17 July 2015, the Appeal Court on Ratchadaphisek Road of Bangkok sentenced Surachai Tevarat, aka Rang, a 31-year-old member of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) to 26 years and 8 months imprisonment.

According to the indictment, Surachai was charged with breaking several provisions of the 1987 Arms Control Act and 1947 Firearms Act for possessing and offering to sell weapons of war, such as guns, hand grenades, and ammunition.

The prosecution accused him and some of his associates of offering to sell several weapons of war at Bang Lamung District of the eastern province of Chonburi on 17 June 2010. Undercover officers pretended that they wanted to buy arms from the suspects when he was offering to sell weapons to them.  

On 8 October 2013, the Court of First Instance dropped charges against the defendant, claiming that the evidence against him was not concrete. Moreover, the suspect had no intention to escape. However, the prosecution later appealed the verdict.

On Friday, the Appeal Court ruled that the evidence against the suspect was solid enough. The court reasoned that although there were no procedures to examine if the fingerprints on the weapons belonged to the suspect and that the prosecution witnesses gave slightly different information regarding the price agreed for the weapons, other evidence was sufficient.

The court also dismissed suspicions that the prosecution did not contact the DSI (Department of Special Investigation) to deal with the case when they proposed to buy weapons from the suspects in order to collect evidence.

According to Jirasak Boonna, the suspect’s defence lawyer, he and his client will continue to fight the case to the Supreme Court. Jirasak said that he accepted the court’s verdict, but disagreed with many of the court’s reasons.

Surachai was arrested by DSI officers on 15 July 2010. According to the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES), a government agency established to maintain security during the red-shirt protests in early 2010, the defendant was accused of carrying out several attacks on public venues with an M79 grenade launcher during the April-May 2010 political violence.

Surachai Tevarat under custody