Thai court delays bail ruling for top Red Shirts

AP News
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Posted: Aug 09, 2012 6:32 AM
Thai court delays bail ruling for top Red Shirts

BANGKOK (AP) — A Thai court Thursday postponed a verdict that could put some Red Shirt leaders back in jail for violating the terms of their bail two years after the group's street protests paralyzed the Thai capital.

Hundreds of Red Shirt supporters had gathered peacefully outside the Criminal Court in Bangkok to await the ruling.

Delaying the case until Aug. 22 will allow defendant Yoswarit Chooklom to add more witnesses and evidence to defend himself, a judge said.

Yoswarit is among 24 Red Shirt leaders and key members being tried on terrorism charges in connection with the 2010 protests, which deteriorated into violence that left at least 91 people dead and more than 1,700 injured. Five of them are lawmakers now and have parliamentary immunity.

The conditions of their releases on bail had barred the defendants from instigating chaos through speeches or creating disturbances in Thai society.

A political opponent filed a complaint alleging Yoswarit threatened Constitutional Court judges in political speeches made to crowds in front of Parliament in June. Another Red Shirt leader, Jatuporn Prompan, also is accused of violated his bail terms by speaking at the same rally.

The comments were made as the Constitutional Court was deliberating on the legitimacy of efforts to amend the charter, and the court could have ruled to dissolve the Red Shirt-backed ruling party just a year after it won landslide elections.

Yoswarit admitted to the court he was "negligent" in giving out home addresses and phone numbers of the judges and their families members to the Red Shirt supporters although quickly apologizing and discouraging the crowds from calling the numbers.

"I never intended to instigate any disturbances," said Yoswarit.

The Red Shirt movement mostly consisted of supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup. Some of the leaders have become cabinet ministers in the current government, led by his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra.

The court is closely identified with a conservative, elite establishment that sees Thaksin's popularity as a threat to its own power and influence. The court's members have removed two Thaksin-allied prime ministers in the last four years, and they have dissolved major political parties and banned top politicians from politics.