Case taken by the owners of three concerns that were destroyed by a fire that was set off during the 2010 street protests near the Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok. Thailand’s top court awarded them ฿19.3 million plus 7.5% interest in damages.

The Thai Supreme Court last Thursday handed down judgment against three Red Shirt leaders involved in the political protests of 2010 which led to a fire that destroyed three businesses and the livelihood of the owners when a shop building went up in flames. The court, in holding the protest leaders liable, said that they had incited the arson attack.

Jatuporn Prompan and Nattawut Saikaur, two of the Red Shirt leaders from 2010 appearing before the Criminal Court in Bangkok in the aftermath of the protests. On Monday, Mr Japtuporn confirmed that the trio will pay the judgment and said that the defendants respected the decision of the Thai Supreme Court.

Jutuporn Prompan, the 54-year-old Chairman of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship or UDD, the organisation associated with the 2010 street protests or Red Shirts issued a statement on Monday in which he confirmed that he and two other Red Shirt leaders will pay a ฿30 million judgment handed down against the trio on Thursday last in a surprise decision by the Thai Supreme Court. The decision of the court is final on the matter.

The judgment was given against Jatuporn, Nattawut Saikaur and Arisman Pongruangrong, all senior figures in the movement. It came after the court heard an appeal from a group of businesspeople whose businesses were burned down during one day of the 2010 protests which saw a building go up in fire.

Plaintiffs were the owners of three businesses torched in one day of the 2010 protests in Bangkok

The plaintiffs in the case had initially filed a claim in Thailand’s Civil Court. The plaintiffs were Nuchathip Bangjongsilp, Sirichet Sukprasongdee and Manasanan Sukprasongdee as well as the ULC Software company. These were the owners of three business ventures contained in a shop on the Ratchaprarop Road which was destroyed in the course of the then roving street protests of the time near the Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok.

Initial defendants included then prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Bangkok governor Sukhumband Paribatra but the lower court threw them out

The initial claim for compensation was for ฿385 million and the defendants listed included the prime minister at the time, Abhisit Vejjajiva, Suthep Thaugsuban then a deputy prime minister in the government responsible for security, the Governor of Bangkok at the time Sukhumband Paribatra and even ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra. At the outset, the other named defendants were thrown out by the lower courts and the case against the Red Shirt leaders dismissed. The ruling was appealed to the Appeals Court where it was upheld. 

Thai Supreme Court reversed the position of the two lower courts on Thursday in a surprise decision

However, on Thursday last the 22nd of August, the Supreme Court reversed the position of both lower courts and substituted judgment against the trio who were not even in court to hear the verdict. The court ruled that the Red Shirt leaders had incited arson and were therefore liable for the demise of the three businesses.

Total costs to the Red Shirt leaders will be ฿30 million to be paid to the business owners

It awarded ฿1.3 million to Nuchathip Bangjongsilp, ฿12 million to Sirichet Sukprasongdee and Manasanan Sukprasongdee and ฿6 million to ULC Software company. The total judgment was for ฿19.3 million plus interest per annum at 7.5%. The total amount to be paid by the three plaintiffs is estimated at ฿30 million.

In a statement later on Monday, Mr Jatuporn on behalf the three Red Shirt leaders confirmed that the group ‘wholeheartedly’ respects the decision of the Thai Supreme Court even though they may disagree with it. 

Legal blow for the Red Shirts came one week after the Criminal Court acquitted them of terrorism charges in relation to the 2010 protests

The decision by the court ironically came one week after the Criminal Court had acquited Jatuporn Prompan and three other leading members of the UDD who were brought before it on terrorism charges in relation to the events of 2010. The court acquitted them of responsibility for the Central World fire that engulfed the huge shopping centre on May 19th that year and several other charges including the removal of weapons from soldiers and refusing to move the protest despite emergency government decrees.

Red Shirt protests held to be legitimate political activities by the Criminal Court on the 15th August

In its ruling, the court held that the activities of the Red Shirts were political as provided for under Thailand’s laws at that time. On that occasion, Mr Jatuporn also welcomed the court’s decision and emphasised that it meant that political demonstrators were not terrorists.

Further reading:

Redshirt leader calls on supporters to be patient as he predicts the new government will be short-lived