The Criminal Court has sentenced a suspect known as the ‘popcorn gunman’ to 37 years and four months in prison for attempted murder and carrying a weapon in public during the political violence in February 2014.
The Criminal Court on Ratchadapisek Road, Bangkok, on Thursday, 3 March 2016, sentenced Wiwat Yodprasit, a 24-year-old man to 37 years and four months in jail. He was accused of shooting at red shirt protesters during a confrontation between the anti-establishment red shirts and People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) anti-election protesters, at Laksi intersection in Bangkok on 2 February 2014.
He was indicted for more than 10 offences under the Criminal Code, the Gun Control Act, the Emergency Decree, and the Civil Code for attempted murder and carrying weapons in public.
According to the indictment, Wiwat used a popcorn sack to conceal an M16 and shot at anti-establishment red-shirt demonstrators who gathered on 2 February 2016 in front of IT Square at Laksi intersection in support of the 2014 general election.
Four people were seriously injured in the shooting, one of whom, Akaew Sae-Liew, a 72-year-old street vendor, who was allegedly shot by the suspect, died in September 2014 after being paralysed for eight months.
There are 21 other suspects in the case, all of whom are still at large.
Initially, the court convicted Wiwat to life imprisonment. However, the penalty on each of the offences was reduced by one third because he was cooperative during the trial.
The court’s verdict was based on video footage of the incident, Wiwat’s confession and his interviews with the press before he recanted his confession.
Wiwat was arrested by police on 20 March 2014 and was indicted by the prosecutor on 11 June 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.
The convict’s defence lawyer said that he will appeal the verdict and has prepared 3.7 million baht as surety for a bail request.