The Supreme Court has handed a two month suspended jail term to a prominent red-shirt activist.
On 9 August 2017, the Dusit District Court in Bangkok read the Supreme Court’s verdict for Sombat Boonngamanong, leader of the Red Sunday red-shirt group, who was accused of failing to report to the junta.
According to iLaw, the Supreme Court confirmed an earlier ruling by the Appeal Court in handing him a two month prison sentence and a 3,000 baht fine. The jail term is suspended for one year.
The final verdict differs from the Court of First Instance’s ruling delivered in September 2015 to dismiss the charge against the activist but maintain a 500 baht fine. The Court of First Instance reasoned then that the law cannot be enforced retroactively and on an individual basis, because National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Announcement No. 29/2014 was issued two days after the junta’s summons against Sombat.
NCPO Announcement No. 29/2014 states that it is a criminal offence to fail to obey summon orders. But a year later, the Appeal Court overturned the Court of First Instance’s ruling, reasoning that any order and announcement issued by the NCPO is law.
Sombat was one of the first red-shirt activists to be summoned by the military after the coup. He was arrested on the night of 5 June 2014 at a house in eastern Chonburi Province where he had been hiding for two weeks.
While he was in hiding, he was politically active in cyberspace. He successfully orchestrated an anti-coup gathering on 1 June 2014 at the McDonalds at Ratchaprasong where a thousand people showed up without his presence.
He was also charged under Article 116 of the Criminal Code (the sedition law) and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act for disseminating information deemed a threat to national security.
Sombat Boonngamanong (left) in front of Dusit District Court (Photo from iLaw)