Thai court sentences 'Red Shirts' to jail for 2009 rioting

2015-03-06 11:17

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bangkok - A Thai court has sentenced 15 members of the "Red Shirt" political movement to four years in prison for inciting rioting that disrupted an important regional conference in 2009, a lawyer said.

The sentencing by a court in Pattaya on Thursday is the latest blow against supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a military coup in 2006 after being accused of corruption and disrespect for the king.

Those sentenced included two of the group's more senior leaders, Worachai Hema, a former pro-Thaksin lawmaker, and Arisman Pongruangrong, a popular former pop singer-turned-firebrand, their lawyer Karom Polpornklang said Friday. Two of the 15 were absent for the sentencing, and the others were held after an initial denial of bail.

"The accused were found guilty on multiple charges, including causing unrest, leading more than 10 people to do or threaten to do an act of violence, and trespassing," Karom told The Associated Press. "We are hoping to bail them out as soon as we can."

Court rulings

The disrupted meeting was a summit of leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, some of whom were evacuated by helicopter after the Red Shirt mob broke into the hotel hosting the conference.

The protesters, numbering about 2 000, were demanding that then-Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva call new elections because they felt he came to office illegitimately after two prime ministers they supported were forced from office under questionable circumstances.

Thaksin and his allies have won every national election since 2001. His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was forced from the prime minister's job last year by a controversial court ruling just before another military coup toppled the government.

Thaksin's supporters believe the country's traditional establishment — led by royalists and the military — fears his popularity and is attempting to reduce his influence.

Their suspicions are fuelled by a pattern of court rulings which have condemned Thaksin's supporters while leaving his opponents mostly untouched.

Several days of violence

Thaksin opponents who occupied the prime minister's office for three months in 2008 and took over Bangkok's two airports for a week have mostly not faced justice.

The current junta and the interim government it installed, assisted by allies in state agencies and the judiciary, have taken a series of measures meant to reduce the power of Thaksin's political machine.

A constitution that is being drafted is expected to strengthen the permanent bureaucracy — which is associated with the royalist establishment — at the expense of political parties.

The 2009 rioting in the seaside resort of Pattaya, along with several days of violence in the capital, Bangkok, foreshadowed greater trouble in 2010, when Red Shirt protesters revived their campaign and forced the military to garrison parts of Bangkok.

 A small number of armed militants assisted the protesters, and over the course of two months more than 90 people were killed and at least 1 500 were injured, with violence peaking when the army moved in to crush the protest.

Read more on:    thailand

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.