Court Reduces Sentence for Yellowshirt Protester Who Tried to Kill Police

A police officer hurls a tear gas grenade toward the protesters in front of the Parliament in Bangkok, 7 October 2008

BANGKOK — The prison sentence of a Yellowshirt activist who attempted to run over a group of police officers in 2008 was reduced by 30 years today.

Thailand’s Supreme Court upheld a guilty verdict for 58-year-old Preecha Treecharoon, who was charged with attempted murder, but reduced his sentence from 34 years in prison to three years and four months.

Protesters clash with police in front of the Parliament in Bangkok, 7 October 2008

The court said the lighter sentence was granted because Preecha was "acting out of momentary rage" when he crashed his pick-up truck into the "taunting" policemen, injuring five of them. 

"When police officers cracked down on rallies of the People's Alliance for Democracy, some police officers taunted the demonstrators, which was unlawful and an abuse of power," the verdict read. "Mr. Preecha was also severely injured [in the clashes], having lost his right eye … Therefore, it led his outburst of momentary rage and wrongdoing against the five victims." 

The judge also found Preecha guilty of unlawful assembly because some of the protesters were armed. 

The Yellowshirt activists were protesting against a government led by allies of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a coup in 2006 and lives in self-imposed exile. The Yellowshirts, a conservative faction of middle class urbanites and traditional elites, abhor Thaksin, and view him as a corrupt tyrant who has continued to exert influence of Thailand through proxy governments.

On the morning of 7 October 2008, riot police attempted to disperse the protesters with tear gas and batons, prompting the protesters to fight back with slingshots and wooden sticks. Two protesters died in the clashes. 

Yellowshirt leaders accused police of using poorly maintained tear gas cannisters that reportedly exploded on impact, but Thai police have vehemently denied the allegation. 


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