A court has dismissed charges against an anti-election protester accused of preventing the 2014 advance election, saying that it was election officials who cancelled the election.
The Phra Khanong District Court, Bangkok, on Thursday, 5 November 2015, dismissed charges against Thawatchai Promchan, 45, a former key leader of the People’s Force and Thai Energy Reform Network, a political group which joined the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), an anti-election group, to prevent advance voting in 2014.
Thawatchai was charged with leading a group of anti-election protesters to barricade the polling station at Wat Sri Iam in Prawet District of Bangkok during the advance election on 26 January 2014 and threatening voters not to cast their votes.
The prosecutors indicted him for offences under Article 76 of the 2007 Organic Act on Elections and Article 152 of the 2007 Organic Act on the Election Commission.
In addition, he was charged with violating the 2005 Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situation, which was at the time declared by the Yingluck government, for calling on others not to cast their votes.
The court ruled that no solid evidence could prove that the suspect took part in barricading the polling station and that the decision to call off the advance election was the judgement of election officials.
Earlier in July 2015, the Criminal Court dismissed charges against PDRC demonstrators who barred the Din Daeng District Office in northern Bangkok on 2 February 2014 to prevent the distribution of ballot papers to polling stations.
The court ruled that there was no evidence that the PDRC demonstrators used padlocks to barricade the gate of the District Office as indicted.
The Criminal Court also cited an earlier ruling of the Constitutional Court that the PDRC demonstrations at the time of the general election in February were lawful.
On 2 February 2014, 175 polling stations could not open because PDRC protesters prevented the transportation of ballot papers from the Din Daeng District Office.
On 30 September 2015, Khaosod English reported that around 20 anti-establishment red shirts went to the Attorney General’s Office to demand an explanation for the delay in prosecuting 31 leaders and activists of the PDRC who campaigned against the elected administration of Yingluck Shinawatra, the former Prime Minister, from November 2013 to May 2014.
“We are here to ask, where is that rebel Suthep?” read one placard held by a Redshirt, referring to PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban.