Thai ‘Red Shirt’ Protest Leader Freed on Bail

Posted December 28th, 2011 at 7:55 am (UTC-5)
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A Thai court has granted bail to a top leader of Thailand's “Red Shirt” protest movement who was being held on terrorism charges related to last year's deadly opposition protests.

Arisman Pongruangrong, who surrendered to authorities earlier this month to fight the charges, was freed Wednesday on $190,000 bail.

Arisman narrowly escaped arrest in April following weeks of mass anti-government protests in the capital, Bangkok, during which at least 90 people – mostly civilians – were killed.

A Thai appeals court granted Arisman's third attempt at bail because it said he was unlikely to flee the country again.

The court had prohibited Arisman from leaving the country as a condition for bail.

The activist, who is thought to have fled to neighboring Cambodia, said he surrendered because he believes justice will be administered by the current government.

The protests targeted the then-ruling Democrat party, which was swept from office earlier this year and replaced by the Red Shirt Pheu Thai party founded by exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Mr. Thaksin's sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is now prime minister.

Rights groups have criticized Thai security forces for using excessive and unnecessary lethal force to quell the protests.

Arisman is among over a dozen Red Shirt leaders charged with inciting violence, threatening government officials and terrorism during the 10 weeks of protests.

In related news, a Thai court on Wednesday sentenced another Red Shirt leader to 32 months in jail for his part in an attack on rival “Yellow Shirt” protesters in 2008. Kwanchai Praipana, who is appealing the charges, has also been released on bail.