3 cabinet ministers among 2013 protest leaders sentenced to jail
Bangkok, Feb 24 (efe-epa).- A Thai court on Wednesday handed down prison sentences to three members of the current government and other leaders of protests that began in 2013 and ended with the May 2014 military coup.
Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan and Digital Economy Minister Puttipong Punnakanta as well as Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senniam were sentenced to between five and seven years for insurrection, illegal demonstration and election obstruction.
Among those convicted is former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and founder of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), the group that led the protests against the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra.
Between October 2013 and May 2014, thousands of people took to the streets of Bangkok and other cities across Thailand in protest against the government, bringing part of the country’s economy to a standstill.
In February 2014, Yingluck’s government called for early elections, but they were annulled after the PDRC, whose leaders have now been convicted, blocked voters at several polling stations across the country.
Amid that climate of instability, then-army chief and current prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, seized power in a bloodless coup in May 2014.
Yingluck, who was deposed by the Constitutional Court a few days before the military uprising, fled the country shortly before being sentenced in 2017 in absentia to five years in prison for negligence. EFE-EPA