Arrest warrant issued for ex-PAD leader Somkiat

Court rejects poor health excuse for failure to appear

Former core leader of People’s Alliance for Democracy Somkiat Pongpaibul, left, on the stage at the seized Government House in October 2008. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The Appeal Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Somkiat Pongpaibul, a former core leader of the disbanded People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), after he failed to show up on Monday for the ruling on the group’s seizure of Government House in 2008.

Five other former leaders of the PAD were present at the court - Chamlong Srimuang, Sondhi Limthongkul, Pibhop Dhongchai, Somsak Kosaisuk and Suriyasai Katasila.

Sondhi is serving a 20-year-jail sentence handed down by the Supreme Court on Sept 6 last year for a breach of the Securities and Exchange Act. He was brought to the court from prison.

In 2015, the six defendants were sentenced by the Criminal Court to two years in prison for leading followers to seize and occupy Government House from Aug 26 to Dec 3, 2008.  They led the PAD protests to pressure then-prime ministers Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat to resign, accusing them of conflicts of interest through their links with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The six appealed the judgement.

The Appeal Court earlier scheduled its ruling for May 16, but Maj Gen Chamlong did not show up, pleading illness. The ruling was deferred until June 19. 

However, Mr Somkiat's lawyer told the court on Monday his client had been admitted to hospital suffering from vertigo and was unable to be present. He submitted a medical certificate and requested a further postponement.   

The court asked whether the doctor who treated Mr Somkiat could be brought before the court for questioning today. The lawyer said this could not be arranged in time. 

The court ruled that Mr Somkiat’s claim of being unable to attend because of an an ailment carried no weight and issued a warrant for his arrest.

The court postponed delivering its ruling to July 24 and advised any defendants who were too ill to attend in future to ensure their doctor was in court to testify.

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