The Criminal Court sentenced four people accused of shooting grenades into People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters in early 2014 to death, but reduced the sentence to life imprisonment.
On Friday, morning the Southern Criminal Court of Bangkok handed down the death sentence to Chatchawan Prabbamrung, Somsri Marit, Sunthorn Pipuannog, and Tweechai Wichakam after convicted the four of murder and possessions of weapons of war, including, carrying illegal weapons in public.
However, the death sentence was reduced to life imprisonment because the four pleaded guilty.
The court dismissed the allegation that the four were tortured into confessing, saying that according to Pol Col Akkaradech Pimonsri, the four were not tortured during the interrogation.
The four were arrested between 6-8 July 2014 and detained incommunicado by the military officers for 8-9 days, which exceeded the maximum period of seven days that the martial law imposed during that time allowed.
The authorities charged the four for using M79 grenade launcher to shoot into the crowd of the anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters in front of Big C Department Store of Ratchaprasong Intersection in central Bangkok on the evening of 23 February 2014, resulting in the deaths of an adult and two children, including, 21 injured nine of whom suffered severe injuries.
According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), families of the suspects, however, alleged that the four convicts were tortured and forced to confess while they were detained by the military officers.
Last year, Prachatai talked to Chatchawan Prabbamrung, one of the four convicts, who were arrested in early July. He reported that he was tortured to confess. The accounts of alleged torture include electric shocks to the genitals, suffocation, and continuous beatings all night.
Chatchawan also reported that during the arrest, him and his wife were taken into separate vans, he was blindfolded and was threatened by military officers to confess, otherwise his wife would “not be safe”.