Thai court postpones 'Red Shirt' terror trial

The terrorism trial of Thai "Red Shirt" leaders in connection with deadly civil unrest in 2010 was postponed Thursday until November because some of the defendants enjoy immunity while parliament is in session.

Police said 1,000 Red Shirts, who are broadly loyal to ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, massed outside the court in a noisy demonstration of support for the 24 accused, who include five serving lawmakers.

"The court has agreed to postpone the hearing until the parliament session ends on 28 November," an unnamed judge of the Bangkok Criminal Court said, adding the trial will have to be suspended when parliament resumes in February 2013.

Two months of anti-government protests in Bangkok in April and May 2010 by the Red Shirts triggered a series of clashes between demonstrators and troops that left more than 90 people dead -- mostly civilians -- and nearly 1,900 injured.

Most top Red Shirts surrendered to police after the army launched a crackdown on the movement's fortified encampment in the heart of Bangkok. No government official or military personnel has been charged over the deaths.

The defendants risk having their bail revoked amid allegations they breached its conditions. A ruling on that will be announced in late August for nineteen of the suspects and in November for the five lawmakers, the court said.

The kingdom, which remains deeply divided by the bloodshed, now has a new government allied to Thaksin, whose sister Yingluck is prime minister.

Two foreign journalists were among those killed during the 2010 rallies, including Japanese cameraman Hiroyuki Muramoto.

Then prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban and former army chief Anupong Paojinda will be called as witnesses in the official inquest into Muramoto's death which began in May.


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