Court dismisses terrorism charges against protesters in 2008 airport closure

The court has dismissed terrorism charges against 13 anti-government protesters who shut down Bangkok’s main international airports in 2008. They have each been handed only a 20,000 baht fine for violations of the Emergency Decree.

On 17 January, the court delivered its verdict in the case of 13 leading members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), who were charged with several offences, including terrorism, violation of the Emergency Decree, physical assault, and unlawful assembly, after they shut down Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi Airports during anti-government protests in 2008.

Testimony from an airport official concluded that no damage was caused and the airports were able to operate normally the following day. Despite causing inconvenience to others, it was deemed a peaceful assembly without weapons.

In addition, an officer, who was physically assaulted at the time, was not able to provide details of the suspect, let alone recognise his face. The court decided to dismiss the charge due to insufficient evidence.

However, the court stated that the protest was held in an area designated in the Emergency Decree where assemblies of more than 5 people were prohibited. 

The protesters were guilty of violating the Emergency Decree and trespassing and given a 20,000 baht fine for each while the other charges were dismissed.

In a civil case, the Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that 13 leaders of the PAD were required to pay compensation to the Airport of Thailand Public Company (AOT) in the amount of 522,160,947.31 baht, with 7.5 % annual interest as of 3 December 2008. On 17 October 2023, 11 of the protesters were declared bankrupt by the Central Bankruptcy Court in response to the AOT’s petition.

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