Thai Ministers Sentenced to Prison and Job Loss

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Three Thai ministers were sentenced to five to seven years in prison on Wednesday for sedition. They were found guilty of participating in anti-government demonstrations. They have lost their powers as ministers.

 

The Bangkok court sentenced a total of 26 people. They included former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who was sentenced to five years in prison.

Suthep led the massive protests that legitimised a military coup that brought Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha to power in 2014. Suthep’s political movement gained importance in 2013 in an effort to dampen ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s influence and has since been dissolved.

Thaksin, accused of corruption, was removed from office in a coup in 2006 but remained a prominent figure. His sister Yingluck became prime minister in 2011. She was deposed three years later by the powerful army after months of violent protests led by Suthep and his allies, including the now-convicted three ministers.

Since then, coup leader Prayut has been in power, initially as head of a military regime and from 2019 as leader of an elected government. Prayut’s government has recently been under fire because of, among other things, the corona policy but survived a vote of confidence last weekend. Mass demonstrations against his rule and for reform of the monarchy have slowed down somewhat in recent months. Four protest leaders have been detained for allegedly insulting the king.

According to observers, Wednesday’s verdict is a signal to the mostly young protesters that judges can be trusted now that it appears that they are also punishing members of the government. The case is still being prosecuted on appeal.

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