A red shirt, who nearly lost his arm during a 2009 attack by the military, has pleaded for leniency after the court confiscated his land and bank account to repay the Royal Thai Army.
On 10 August 2018, Sawai Thong-om and his lawyer submitted a petition to Government House asking for exemption from court and attorney’s fees of 212,114 baht in the lawsuit Sawai brought against the Royal Thai Army.
Sawai was a victim of the 2009 armed crackdown on the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, also known as the red-shirt movement. He suffered a severe gunshot wound in the left arm, virtually paralysing it ever since, so he and another victim subsequently sued then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Chief of Defence Forces Gen Songkitti Jaggabatara, and the Royal Thai Army for 2,856,538 baht as compensation.
Sawai said that after being shot, he could not use his left arm properly and eventually got fired from his job. Another victim, Sanong Phanthong, who was shot in the right leg and lost his job after the incident, also asked for a compensation of 2,245,205 baht. The defendants had to pay both victims 5,102,743 baht in total.
Sawai shows his wound
On 21 June 2011, the Civil Court ruled in favour of the plaintiffs and ordered the defendants to pay Sawai and Sanong 1,200,000 baht and 1,000,000 baht respectively, plus 7.5% interest per year.
The Court of Appeal, however, reversed the decision and dismissed the case, reasoning that the authorities who operated in the crackdown did not carry a 9mm pistol, the weapon that fired the bullets at the plaintiffs. In October 2016, the Supreme Court confirmed the verdict by the Court of Appeal and ordered Sawai and Sanong to repay the court and attorney's fees to the Army. In January 2017, the court appointed the Legal Execution Department to confiscate the plaintiffs’ property.
Sawai told Prachatai that the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives had already confiscated his account, which had only 4,479 baht in it, and the Legal Execution Department had confiscated eight rai of his land (1 rai equals approximately 0.4 acres), which is worth more than 460,000 baht.
He added he feels like a disabled person since some bullet fragments remain in his left arm, making it paralysed. The wound prevents him from doing heavy labour, and all he had was a little farmland, which has now been confiscated.
Sawai shows pictures of himself after he was shot