Soldiers acquitted of shooting red shirt

A Provincial Court in northeastern Thailand has dismissed charges against five soldiers and a member of the Territorial Defence Volunteer Corps (TDVC) accused of shooting a local redshirt leader.

The Provincial Court of the northeastern province of Udon Thani on Thursday, on 26 May 2016, dismissed charges against five soldiers from a military base in the western province of Kanchanaburi and a TDVC member accused of shooting Kwanchai Sarakam, leader of the People Who Love Udon Club, a local anti-establishment red shirt group.

The six were indicted for allegedly shooting Kwanchai in front of his house in Udon Thani on 22 January 2014. He was severely injured in the shooting, but survived.

The court reasoned that it could not be proven that the car believed to be used by the six suspects in the shooting was the same car used by the perpetrators of the crime.

According to Thairath News, the same court on Wednesday issued an arrest warrant for Kwanchai for failing to appear in court to listen to the Supreme Court ruling in a case against him.

Kwanchai and other red shirts were indicted for assaulting members of the pro-establishment yellow-shirts and attempting to demolish their stage in Udon Thani in 2008.

The Court of First Instance sentenced him to four years’ imprisonment without suspending the jail term, but the sentence was reduced by one third to two years and eight months imprisonment and a 350,000 baht fine after he pleaded guilty.

Kwanchai was, however, later granted bail to fight the case further as he submitted a request to appeal the verdict. The Appeal Court confirmed the ruling of the Court of First Instance.

Aporn Sarakam, Kwanchai’s wife, said that she had been unable to contact her husband since 19 May, adding that Kwanchai told her that he wanted to practice meditation before the Supreme Court ruling was read.

The Supreme Court verdict on the case of Kwanchai will be read at Udon Thani Provincial Court on 28 June 2016.

Kwanchai Sarakam (centre), leader of People Who Love Udon Club, a local anti-establishment red shirt group (courtesy of MCOT)