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Leader of Thailand's 'Red Shirts' Movement Jailed for Defamation

  • VOA News

FILE - Jatuporn Prompan (foreground), leader of the Thai opposition "Red Shirt" movement, speaks to supporters at the Criminal Court in Bangkok, Thailand, Jan. 28, 2015.

A leading supporter of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will spend the next year in jail for defaming another former prime minister.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Jatuporn Prompan was guilty of calling then-Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva a murderer in a 2010 speech delivered during street protests in Bangkok against Abhisit's conservative government by the so-called Red Shirts pro-democracy movement. The protests ended in bloody clashes between the military and the Red Shirts, killing dozens of people.

Two lower courts previously had dismissed the defamation charge against Jatuporn.

Thailand has been embroiled in political turmoil since 2006, when Thaksin was overthrown by the yellow shirt-wearing royalist and military-dominated elite. The Yellow Shirt movement gave rise to the pro-Thaksin Red Shirts, whose ranks included the rural poor who strongly supported Thaksin's policies. Thaksin himself has lived in exile since 2008 to avoid corruption charges brought against him.

Thailand's military has ruled since 2014 when it overthrew Thaksin's sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, who had been elected prime minister three years earlier. She has been charged with negligence over her handling of a costly rice-subsidy program.

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