Thai military court releases 14 student protesters

2015-07-07 09:13
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Renewed protests in Thailand

Anti-government protesters have rallied in Bangkok in their biggest bid yet to topple Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. The protests are the latest saga in Thailand's tug of war between recently ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra's supporters and opponents.

Bangkok - A Thai military court on Tuesday released 14 students held for almost two weeks for holding anti-coup protests in defiance of a ban on public gatherings, but the charges against them have not been dropped.

There had been growing calls for their release, including from the United Nations and the European Union, and public shows of support for the 14 have taken place across Thailand and among the Thai diaspora over the past few days.

Thailand's military overthrew the previous democratic government last year after months of political unrest. The junta has since stifled dissent, barring political gatherings and debate.

"Police asked to extend the students' detention but today the court threw out that request," said Kisadang Nutjarat, a lawyer for the students.

"They have released the kids from prison today. There are no conditions and there was no bail," he said, adding that charges against the students had not been dropped.

Street demonstrations

The students, part of a coalition of university groups from around Thailand, held street demonstrations across Bangkok against the ruling junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order.

They were arrested last month and charged with sedition.

Scores gathered outside a military court in Bangkok on Tuesday, shouting slogans and holding signs, to show their support for the students as 150 police officers stood guard nearby.

The 2014 coup ousted the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand's first female prime minister and a scion of the Shinawatra political family.

Thailand has been bitterly divided for a decade between supporters of Yingluck and her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was himself ousted by the army in 2006, and the traditional establishment in the capital and the south.

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