(10 February) A core leader of anti-government protest movements has been arrested for violating the emergency decree.
Mr. Sonthiyarn Chuenruethai-naitham was apprehended by a group of police officers as he was walking in Central Ladprao shopping mall and later brought in a six-car convoy to Border Patrol Police headquarters in Pathum Thani province for interrogation.
Mr. Sonthiyarn is a prominent leader of the People′s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State (PCAD) and a former director of T-News, an anti-government TV station.
He is wanted by the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) on charges of violating the emergency decree, which in principle bans all forms of political gathering.
CMPO spokesman Tharit Pengdith confirmed Mr. Sonthiyarn′s arrest. The warrants for the arrest of Mr. Sonthiyarn and other PCAD leaders were approved by the court last week, and Mr. Sonthiyarn was the first anti-government core leaders to be arrested so far.
The activist is currently held at the Border Patrol Police headquarters. Speaking as he was held in a police vehicle, Mr. Sonthiyarn said he was shopping alone when the police arrested him.
Mr. Sonthiyarn denounced the arrest, arguing he was merely exercising the rights to assembly, which is guaranteed by the Constitution.
Police officers will decide whether he is eligible for a bailed release, Mr. Sonthiyarn added.
Other individuals wanted by the CMPO include Mr. Suthep Thaugsuban, the secretary-general of the PCAD. However, governmental officials have previously stressed that they will not attempt to arrest Mr. Suthep if the operation would escalate the situation.
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