Court clears protesters who occupied airports in 2008


A court acquitted more than two dozen protesters who had occupied Bangkok’s two airports in 2008 of charges of rebellion and terrorism related to their demonstration, which at the time disrupted travel in and out of the country for more than a week.

The Bangkok Criminal Court declared on Wednesday that the members of the People’ Alliance for Democracy had neither caused destruction at the airports nor hurt anyone.

However, 13 of the 28 defendants were slapped with a 20,000 baht (RM2,649) fine each for violating an emergency decree that had banned public gatherings.

The protesters – popularly known as Yellow Shirts for the colour that shows loyalty to the Thai monarchy – had occupied the airports for about 10 days, demanding the resignation of the government, which was loyal to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

They had earlier also occupied Thaksin’s office compound for three months and blocked access to Parliament.

Thaksin was ousted by a 2006 military coup that followed large Yellow Shirt protests accusing him of corruption and disrespect to the monarchy.

In 2008, Yellow Shirts stormed Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports, shutting down operations and defying an injunction calling for them to leave.

The siege ended only after a court ruling forced pro-Thaksin Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat out of office.

Several dozen protesters involved in the demonstrations were divided into two groups of defendants and indicted in 2013. The verdict for the second group is to be delivered in March.

In 2011, the Civil Court ordered the leaders of the group to pay 522 million baht in damages to the state airport authority. They were declared bankrupt and had their assets seized last year to pay the sum. — AP

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