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Political trials and royal insult cases to be reviewed

THAILAND: Thailand will review political trials and royal insult cases connected to five years of unrest, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said on Tuesday in response to independent recommendations.

Thursday 22 September 2011, 04:25PM

Ms Yingluck, whose brother Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 coup that opened deep divisions in the kingdom, said the Government accepts a report from the Truth for Reconciliation Commission, received last week.

“The Cabinet received recommendations and in order to create an atmosphere for reconciliation and in line with the rule of law... the Government agrees to review all criminal charges and lèse majesté cases to ensure fair investigations,” she said.

She also vowed to “coordinate to secure temporary release of political prisoners”, in line with the commission’s advice.

Government spokeswoman Titima Chaisang said in cases where judges denied release for political prisoners, the commission had recommended they be held in special areas, not ordinary prisons.

She said she was “seeking clear explanation” from the Justice Ministry over cases which have already been tried and resulted in conviction.

In its first report to the new leadership, the commission said prosecutions under legislation, including an emergency decree and the lèse majesté laws governing insults against the monarchy, were linked to political conflict before and after the coup.

Thailand’s political divides reached a crescendo in April and May 2010, with clashes between the Army and anti-government “Red Shirt” demonstrators in which more than 90 people died.

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A number of Red Shirt demonstrators are behind bars facing terrorism charges.

Yingluck said the Government would review charges stemming from unrest before and after the coup, suggesting protests such as the occupation of Bangkok airports in 2008 by the royalist Yellow Shirts could also be included.

She said another committee would be set up to coordinate the response to the report and “show the Government is serious and willing to work with this commission to forge genuine national reconciliation”.

The Premier also promised “speedy and serious” measures to compensate those affected by unrest, without specifying the type of remedy planned.

Under Thai legislation, anybody convicted of insulting the King, Queen, heir or regent faces up to 15 years in prison on each count.




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