World

Thai opposition 'red shirt' leader jailed for defamation

BANGKOK: Thailand's Supreme Court jailed a firebrand opposition leader for a year yesterday for defaming a former prime minister, overturning two previous court rulings, in 2012 and 2014, that dismissed the charge against him.

Jatuporn Prompan is a key leader of the "red shirt" supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck Shinawatra, who also served as prime minister. Their governments were both ousted in military coups, in 2006 and 2014, respectively.

Jatuporn led street protests in 2010 when supporters of the populist former telecommunications tycoon Thaksin occupied a Bangkok shopping district for nearly two months, calling for then prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to resign.

The Supreme Court found Jatuporn guilty of calling Mr Abhisit a murderer in a speech during the protests, which ended in bloody confrontation between the military and demonstrators. More than 90 people, mostly civilians, were killed.

Jatuporn's speech had not been fact-checked and had been made for political gain, causing damage to Mr Abhisit's reputation, the court said.

Jatuporn did not speak to the court or to reporters, but only smiled as he was led away to jail, media reported.

Confrontation between the Shinawatras and their supporters and the military-dominated establishment has divided Thailand for more than a decade. - REUTERS

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