BANGKOK — The Supreme Court ordered 79 activists jailed Wednesday for seizing control of a state broadcaster as part of an anti-government campaign 10 years ago.
For their assault on Channel 11’s headquarters in August 2008, the Zapatista-inspired group received sentences of several months after being found guilty on a variety of charges including property damage, breaking and entering and intimidating others.
A total of 85 people were prosecuted, including six who were minors at the time. The court today affirmed a lower court verdict that suspended jail term for the six minors, citing their age. The rest were sentenced to jail terms ranging from six to eight months. They were taken to prison immediately after the verdict was read.
Five defendants didn’t appear at today’s hearing, prompting the court to approve warrants for their arrest.
Prosecutors said the group, known as Sriwichai Warriors for their southern origins, stormed the state-owned TV station in the early hours of Aug. 26, 2008, in an attempt to broadcast a message denouncing the elected government of prime minister Samak Sundaravej.
The group leaders later said the assault was meant to show support for a street protest that was calling on Samak to resign. The protesters, known as the Yellowshirts, accused Samak of serving as a corrupt proxy for influential former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.
While the activists succeeded in entering the TV station, they failed to broadcast their message because the studio equipment required passwords to operate.
Samak was later ousted when a court ruled he violated a law banning prime ministers from taking sideline jobs for appearing on a cooking show.