Red shirt leader gets six months imprisonment for defaming Abhisit

The Supreme Court has sentenced a key leader of the anti-establishment red shirts to six months imprisonment for defaming Abhisit Vejjajiva, former Prime Minister of the Democrat Party.    

The BBC Thai Service reported that on Wednesday, 2 March 2016, the Supreme Court confirmed the Appeal Court verdict, sentencing Jatuporn Prompan, President of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), the main red shirt faction, to six months imprisonment with a 50,000 baht fine.

Jatuporn was indicted on a criminal defamation charge for saying that Abhisit absconded from military conscription and authorised an order to kill people during red shirt rallies in central Bangkok in 2010.

His speech was then broadcast on the now-defunct People’s Channel, the red shirt TV channel, when Abhisit was still the PM.

The Supreme Court today, however, suspended the jail term for two years.

Earlier, the Court of First Instance sentenced the UDD president to two years in jail without suspending the jail term. After the defendant submitted an appeal, the Appeal Court, ruled to imprison Jatuporn for six months with a 50,000 baht fine and the prison term was suspended for two years.

According Jatuporn’s defence lawyer, he has been indicted on four further charges filed by Abhisit which are now with the Appeal and Supreme Courts, the BBC Thai Service reported.

Last month, the Appeal Court dismissed murder charges against Abhisit and Suthep Thaugsuban, his former deputy, for ordering the violent military crackdown on the anti-establishment red-shirt protesters during the April-May 2010 political violence.

The two were accused of murder and indicted by prosecutors of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) for authorising military and police officers to reclaim several venues in Bangkok city centre from the UDD demonstrators between April-May 2010.

More than 90 people died and over 2,000 people were injured during the military crackdown on red shirt protesters.