Thai protest leader freed on bail, rebellion charges filed: Thailand anti-government protest leader Sonthiyan Chuenruthainaitham was freed on bail Saturday and vows to fight insurrection charges filed against him by the government, according to reports.
The Criminal Court ordered him released on 400,000 baht (US$12,378) bail, after agreeing to a 12-day extension of his detention on insurrection and other charges.
The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) officials said 120 witnesses will need to give statements in the case against the crusading journalist, who is one of the core leaders of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protest movement that has been holding rallies in Bangkok for over three months.
The DSI requested the court deny Mr Sonthiyan bail citing the seriousness of the charges and the low likelihood that he would cease his anti-government activities. The penalty for the Section 113 charges against him are death and life imprisonment, according to a Bangkok Post report.
The DSI says he violated the law when he closed government offices, padlocked the Public Works and Town & Country Planning Department, surrounded the Thai-Japanese stadium and Din Daeng police station to prevent MP candidate registration, and took part in other activities to prevent people from voting in the recent election.
Mr Sonthiyan was arrested by police on February 9 while eating alone near Central Department Store in the Lat Prao area of Bangkok. He is one of 19 PDRC protest leaders on the government’s wanted list.
He was released on bail under the condition he stay in the country and does not incite unrest.
After his release on Saturday, Mr Sonthiyan told reporters he was not afraid of the allegations made by the DSI against him, and would continue to fight the charges in court.
He said he would return to work at the satellite channel T-News, which he founded, adding “I have to follow the court’s order, but as a journalist, I can show the truth to the people”.
The 55-year-old has a long history of activism dating back to his student days at Ramkhamhaeng University.