Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

Online movement demands peace in Gaza

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Apple aims to satisfy China's hunger for smartphones

Read more

DEBATE

MH17: Punishing Putin? (part two)

Read more

DEBATE

MH17: Punishing Putin?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Competing narratives in Malaysia Airlines disaster coverage

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Kenya : Police arrest 8 over Mombasa rampage

Read more

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo turn the tide?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Too many graphic images from Gaza ?

Read more

FASHION

Who's next in Paris, an event with international ready-to-wear and fashion accessories collections

Read more

  • Netherlands to honour MH17 victims in national day of mourning

    Read more

  • Kerry arrives in Israel to push for Gaza ceasefire

    Read more

  • Defying UK, France to proceed with warships sale to Russia

    Read more

  • US courts issue conflicting reports on Obamacare

    Read more

  • Video: Lebanon fears fallout from regional turmoil

    Read more

  • Widodo wins Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • Flight MH17 shot down ‘by mistake', US intelligence indicates

    Read more

  • US, European airlines suspend flights to Tel Aviv

    Read more

  • Australian veteran Rogers claims 16th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • France gives go-ahead to pro-Palestinian Paris rally

    Read more

  • French Jews mourn French-Israeli soldier killed in Gaza

    Read more

  • PSG punished by UEFA for abuse of disabled Chelsea fans

    Read more

  • Colombia's Rodriguez signs '€80m' contract with Real Madrid

    Read more

  • Children killed in minibus crash in eastern France

    Read more

  • A call for harmony in riot-hit ‘Little Jerusalem’ Paris suburb

    Read more

Thai protest leaders released on bail

Latest update : 2008-10-10

Leaders of Thailand's recent anti-government protests turned themselves in to police Friday after being charged with inciting unrest, but were immediately released on bail.

BANGKOK - Leaders of a long-running protest in Thailand were released on bail on Friday after surrendering to police on charges of inciting unrest, leaving them free to continue their five-month campaign to unseat the government.

“Everything is done. There is no detention,” Sondhi Limthongkul, the head of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), told reporters after his release from a Bangkok police station along with six colleagues.

No bail bond was posted but three appointed senators, one of whom is a newspaper editor on Sondhi’s payroll, gave guarantees that the seven would return to court when summoned.

Their surrender followed a Court of Appeals decision to quash treason charges against them on Thursday. The court issued fresh warrants for inciting unrest, which carries seven years in jail.

Two PAD leaders already in custody were freed on Thursday on the lesser charge, a major blow to the government and police who had been hoping to decapitate the protest movement by gradually picking off its leadership.

In another sign of the tide flowing against the ruling People Power Party (PPP), state prosecutors said they were forwarding to the Constitutional Court an Election Commission recommendation that the PPP be disbanded for vote fraud.

Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat has cancelled weekend visits to neighbouring Laos and Cambodia, his spokesman said on Friday.

TREASON CHARGES

The original treason charges against the PAD leaders date from Aug. 27, the day after protesters armed with golf clubs, stakes and machetes stormed a state television station, broke into ministries and overran the prime minister’s official compound.

They have been at Government House ever since, making it the heart of a long-running anti-government campaign that spilled over into running battles with riot police this week in which two people died and more than 400 were injured.

Several police officers were shot, one was skewered with a flag pole and another was run over by a truck.

The PAD said it plans a major rally in front of the national police headquarters on Monday to denounce what it calls “police brutality against unarmed protesters”.

Police have denied PAD claims they fired explosives into the crowd this week, insisting they only used teargas.

Several doctors at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok’s top medical school, have launched a campaign to deny medical services to police or politicians involved in the clashes, the worst street violence in Thailand in 16 years.

Queen Sirikit has donated 1 million baht ($29,200) to help treat the injured, including the police, and sent a wreath to the funeral of a 28-year-old woman killed in Tuesday’s clashes.

MORAL CLOUT

PAD leaders trumpeted the latter action as explicit support for their cause from the palace, which wields enormous moral clout in a country where the king is seen by many as a demi-god.

The unrest has distracted policymakers from focusing on slowing economic growth and the fallout from the global credit crisis. Consumer confidence hit a 10-month low in September.

The political crisis dates back to late 2005, when the PAD first started its street protests against then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. It has meandered through a military coup to elections and back to street protests.

Pressure is mounting on army chief Anupong Paochinda to launch another coup, even though he has repeatedly stressed that it would do nothing to defuse the underlying political tensions.

In a front-page interview with the Bangkok Post on Friday, former army chief and ex-premier Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who resigned from the cabinet on Tuesday to take responsibility for the police action, said a coup was the only solution.

“After the military steps in, power should immediately be returned to the people and an interim government can be formed in which every party takes part,” he was quoted as saying.

Date created : 2008-10-10

COMMENT(S)