Youths tried for torching Central World
On 6 Aug, the Central Juvenile and Family Court held a hearing in the case of Attaphol and Phasakorn (family names withheld), who were accused, among other charges, of setting fire to the Central World shopping complex two years ago.
Both were 16 years old when they were arrested in the late afternoon of 19 May 2010.
They were charged with robbery, violating the Emergency Decree and committing arson resulting in the death of Kittipong Somsuk whose body was found inside the shopping mall.
Pol Capt Piya Raksakul, investigator from the Department of Special Investigation in charge of the case, testified as a prosecution witness that security staff of the Central World had identified the defendants from photographs as accomplices in the arson.
They were seen running and firing catapults into the mall, and the mall was later burned down. As the defendants denied the charges, but could not produce any witness to support their claims, he considered the case valid for prosecution.
During cross-examination by the defence, he said that the arson occurred after the red-shirt rally had been dissolved and the defendants were arrested at about 5pm on the 4th floor, Zone C, inside the mall.
They resisted arrest by the authorities, and were initially charged with robbery. Only later were they further charged with arson after witnesses identified them through photographs, he said.
The Police’s Office of Forensic Science and the Ministry of Justice’s Central Institute of Forensic Science examined the scene after the incident, when the area had already been secured by the military. Examination of video recordings showed no photographic evidence of the defendants ‘carrying gas containers or behaving in a manner to commit arson’, he said.
The trial will continue on 7 and 8 Aug.
Two others have been charged with burning down Central World; Saichol Phaebua, 29, a resident of Chainat, and Phinit Channarong, 27, from Chaiyaphum. They have been detained at Laksi Political Prison.
In the case of the robbery at Central World, in which the two juveniles have been implicated, on 1 Dec 2011, the South Bangkok Criminal Court acquitted Phinit and other 5 defendants of the charge, citing a lack of evidence to show that they had stolen 18 items worth 95,430 baht.
Only one defendant Khomsan Sudchanham, who was found to have illegally acquired mobile phones and batteries from the shops by Central World security personnel, was sentenced to 3 years in prison.
The court sentenced all defendants to one year in jail for violating the Emergency Decree, but reduced the term by half as they had pleaded guilty.
The court dismissed the charge of using firearms against the authorities, as there was no evidence showing that they had possessed firearms and used them against the authorities.