BANGKOK — A lower court on Wednesday acquited 24 Redshirt leaders of terrorism charges leveled against them in relation to protests in 2010.

In the ruling, the Court of First Instance stated that the Redshirt leaders engaged in “a political struggle and not an act of terrorism”.

State prosecutors had accused the defendants, which included prominent activists Jatuporn Prompan, Nattawut Saikua and Weng Tojirakarn, of sedition and terrorism in relation to a protest to oust the then Abhisit Vejjajiva administration during the period of Feb. 28 to May 20, 2010. A crackdown on the protests ended in at least 99 deaths, mostly Redshirts.

“We fought the case over the past nine years. The Thai legal system is an accusatorial system…Our job was to defend ourselves,” Jatuporn said before the ruling on Wednesday.

However, Weng said after the hearing that the prosecutor will likely appeal the lower court’s decision. Terrorism carries a maximum punishment of death in Thailand.

“I have always respected the court and I was willing to accept the ruling whether positive or negative. The court confirmed that we exercised the right to protest as protected under the constitution, however,” Weng said in an interview over the phone.

In August 2018, Jatuporn was released from a year in prison after he was sentenced for libelous remarks made against former PM Abhisit Vejjajiva of the Democrat Party.

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