Appeal court dismisses charges against ‘Popcorn Gunman’

The Appeal Court has dismissed the charges against a suspect known as the ‘popcorn gunman’ accused of attempting to murder red shirt protesters in February 2014.

On 27 June 2017, judges read the Appeal Court’s verdict on Wiwat Yodprasit, a 25-year-old man accused of shooting at red shirt protesters during a confrontation between anti-establishment red shirts and People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) anti-election protesters in 2014.

He was indicted on more than ten offences under the Criminal Code, the Gun Control Act, the Emergency Decree, and the Civil Code, for attempted murder and carrying weapons in public.

But the Appeal Court dismissed the charges, citing weak evidence. The ruling overturned the Court of First Instance which in March 2016 sentenced Wiwat to 37 years and four months in jail.

He was initially sentenced to life imprisonment, but the sentence was reduced because he was cooperative during the trial. The key evidence in the case was video footage of the incident, Wiwat’s confession and his interviews with the press before he recanted his confession.

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 2014 at Laksi intersection in support of the 2014 general election.

Four people were seriously injured in the shooting. One of them, Akaew Sae-Liew, a 72-year-old street vendor, died in September 2014 after being paralysed for eight months.

In March 2014, several sources reported that Wiwat had confessed during a police press conference to being the popcorn gunman.

Although the charges against Wiwat were dismissed, the court did not release him. He will be kept in detention while the prosecution appeals to the Supreme Court.

Wiwat Yodprasit behind bars (file photo)

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