BANGKOK — An appeal court on Friday approved a temporary release for former deputy PM Suthep Thaugsuban and seven other defendants found guilty earlier this week of inciting sedition against the elected government.
Suthep and seven of his lieutenants who campaigned alongside him during the “Shutdown Bangkok” street protests in 2013 and 2014 were deemed to pose no flight risk by the Court of Appeals. Their bond was set at 800,000 baht each.
The eight defendants were set to be released later today from Bangkok Remand Prison. Suthep and others are seeking to appeal the verdict, which sent them to jail on Wednesday on a number of charges, including insurrection and suppressing an election.
Those convicted in Wednesday’s verdict include three former Cabinet members who now lost their post: Digital Economy Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan, Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam.
They also include politicos Issara Somchai, Chumpol Julsai, Samdin Lertbut, and former monk activist Buddha Issara, who is now known by his secular name Suwit Thongprasert.
Suthep served as the Deputy Prime Minister from 2008 to 2011. He was also the Deputy Chairman of the pro-establishment Democrat Party.
The eight defendants were leaders of a group called the People’s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King as Head of State, which is known in its official English name as the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, or PDRC.
The movement led the demonstrations against the elected government of then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from late 2013 through May 2014. The protesters seized government buildings, shut down intersections, and sometimes clashed with the police and counter demonstrators.
At Suthep’s behest, the movement also blocked the snap election called by Yingluck. Suthep and other leaders say an unspecified number of reforms must be implemented before a new election can be held.
Instability caused by the street protests led to the army under Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha staging a coup in 2014 and keeping power until 2019. Up to 27 people were killed in the months of sometimes-violent protest.