Thai protest leaders surrender to police
Top leaders of an anti-government movement that has occupied Thailand's seat of government since August surrendered Friday to police, news reports said, a day after treason charges were dropped against them, dpa reported.
The leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) still face charges of resisting arrest and gathering illegally for the actions of their group, which was involved in deadly clashes with police this week and seized Government House August 26 in its five months of demonstrations aimed at toppling the government.
The treason charges dropped Thursday by Thailand's Appeals Court carried a maximum sentence of death. Under the lesser charges, the nine PAD leaders now face a maximum sentence of seven years in prison if convicted.
Six of the nine charged surrendered to police in Bangkok, The Bangkok Post reported. It said they were expected to be freed on bail.
The PAD is a loose coalition of conservative groups staunchly opposed to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his political allies, who now run the government.
PAD leaders Chaiwat Sinsuwong and Chamlong Srimuang were arrested over the weekend, leading to a protest by their movement outside Parliament Tuesday that led to a violent confrontation between police and thousands of PAD followers that left two dead and about 440 injured.
Both men were released on bail Thursday.
The PAD is calling for the dissolution of the government under Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat on the claim that the current government is a proxy for Thaksin.
Somchai is the brother-in-law of Thaksin, who is currently living in self-imposed exile in London, where he and his family have sought political asylum.
Thaksin faces several corruption charges dating back to his two-term premiership between 2001 to 2006, and his wife Pojaman has been sentenced to three years in prison for tax evasion. He was ousted in a bloodless military coup on September 19, 2006.
The PAD, which is staunchly pro-monarchy and highly critical of the type of "money politics" Thaksin came to represent, has drawn many of Bangkok's middle class to its ranks and enjoys the tacit support of members of Thailand's political elite.