On August 19th 2013, around 9:30pm at Lak Sri Prison, 44 year old ex-police lance corporal,Bundit Sithithum, Red Shirts activist who was accused of shooting RPG into the Ministry of Defense, was released on temporary bail with the collateral of one million baht by the decision of the Appeal Court. Assoc. Prof. Tida Tavonseth, president of the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) along with Dr. Weng Tojilakarn were at Lak Sri Prison to greet Mr. Bunditas back into society.
Mr. Bundit was acquitted from his crime on August 9th 2013 since the Appeal Court reversed the decision of the Civil Court due to lack of evidence and conflicting reports from the witnesses. However, immediately after the Appeal Court decision, the prosecutors filed the litigation to the Supreme Court forcing the defense attorney to put down a guarantee of one million, a condition for his temporary release during the legal process. After several attempts, Mr. Bundit was granted temporary bail.
The conflicting reports of the witnesses convinced the Appeal Court to reverse the decision of the Civil Court. Some eyewitnesses saw Mr. Bundit drive the vehicle that was used by the suspects but some said that he was in the passenger seat. A few people saw Mr. Bundit with a cap on but many said that he was not wearing any hat. Several witnesses gave differing accounts to the courts and a number of them are not even sure anymore if Mr. Bundit was even at the crime scene. The incident also took place at night in an area with dim light which made it difficult for the eye-witnesses to clearly identify the suspect.
There are fingerprints of Mr. Bundit inside the suspect’s vehicle and his DNA was on the jacket in the car but there are also other DNA and finger prints at the crime scene. The prosecutors proved that Mr. Bundit was affiliated with the car through ownership but they failed to place him at the crime scene. They also failed to identify him as the shooter because his fingerprints were not on the alleged weapon and there was no gunpowder residue on him. From the lack of solid evidence and given the benefit of a doubt, the Appeal Court saw it fit to release Mr. Bundit on a temporary bail.
Mrs. Tida told the press that the acquittal of Mr. Bundit was a welcoming sign because it destroyed the heinous accusation which claimed that Red Shirts supporters had shot an RPG into Wat Phra Keaw, the principle temple inside the palace ground, during the unrest in 2010. The president of the UDD also believed that Mr. Bundit’s case is a prime example why there is a need for an Amnesty Bill. All of the cases against the political prisoners are weak because of a similar lack of evidence and witnesses.
Before leaving the prison, Mr. Bundit pleaded to the opposition to think of peace within the society and of the people who were victimized by political conflicts before voicing their objections against the Amnesty Bill. He also wanted the remaining political prisoners to be released on bail during the deliberation process of the Amnesty bill.