Thailand court acquits 2008 protestors of terrorism charges News
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Thailand court acquits 2008 protestors of terrorism charges

A Thai court acquitted 67 individuals on Friday of terrorism charges for protests that caused two airports to shut down in 2008. The protests were orchestrated by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) in opposition to the then government, which was headed by allies of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The Bangkok Criminal Court issued the 51-page ruling at around 10:00AM local time. In it, the court held that the protests did not go against the Constitution, which states that a group of people has the freedom to assemble so long as they are peaceful, not causing chaos and without weapons. As the 2008 demonstrators were peaceful and unarmed, their gathering was permitted under the Constitution. Further, the court ruled that no security offenses were committed under the Criminal Code concerning terrorism, banditry or trespass, nor were any crimes of fighting, obstructing, detaining and restraining police and security guards committed.

The protests concerned in this case took place in 2008 when PAD, commonly known as the Yellow Shirts, organized large gatherings in Don Mueang and Subarnabhumi airports. The protestors wore yellow shirts in demonstration of their loyalty to the Thai government and their opposition to the then government, who were loyal to Thaksin. The Yellow Shirts had previously protested against Thaksin during his time in office, accusing him of corruption and disrespecting the monarchy.

Previous spokesperson of PAD and defendant in the case, Panthep Puapongpan, issued a statement and summary of the acquittal via Facebook. He welcomed the decision of the court, which has been pending in the court system for over ten years, expressing praise for the ruling and stating that some defendants shed tears in response. 

This is the second case to be heard regarding the 2008 demonstrations due to the large volume of individuals involved. The case initially progressed slowly because of the high number of defendants and was therefore divided into two separate cases of 31 defendants and 67 defendants. The first set of defendants were acquitted in January, although some were issued with fines for violating an emergency decree that banned public gatherings at the time.