Appeal Court dismisses case against three PDRC leaders

The Appeal Court on 20 October dismissed the case against People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) leaders Sakoltee Phattiyakul, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, and Seri Wongmonta, while ruling to sentence Top News director Sonthiyan Chuenruthainaitham to 8 months in prison.

From left: Seri Wongmontha, Sonthiyan Chuenruthainaitham, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, and Sakoltee Phattiyakul

The four faced charges of rebellion, sedition, being members of a secret society, joining an assembly of more than 10 persons and causing public disorder while armed, trespassing, and violation of the Organic Act on Elections, among other charges, for obstructing the 2014 general election and trespassing into government buildings during the 2013-2014 PDRC protests.

The Appeal Court sentenced Sonthiyan to 1 year in prison, reduced to 8 months since he gave useful testimony, and banned him from voting for the next 5 years. Sonthiyan was later granted bail while awaiting trial in the Supreme Court using a security of 600,000 baht and without conditions. Meanwhile, the Court ruled to dismiss the case against Sakoltee, Sombat, and Seri, following the Court of First Instance’s ruling, on the ground that there was not enough evidence to prove that they did obstruct the election.

In February 2019, the Court of First Instance had ruled to dismiss the case against all four PDRC leaders on the grounds that even though evidence showed that they joined the PDRC protests, there was no evidence to prove that they led the protests or ordered protesters to commit violence. Additionally, the Constitutional Court has ruled that the PDRC’s protests are considered an exercise of freedom of expression as protected by the Constitution.

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