Protest leader to besiege state rice warehouse


BANGKOK, Feb 6 — Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban on Thursday threatened to lead supporters to seize a state rice warehouse tomorrow with the intention to sell rice to help farmers, while the Attorney General refused to postpone his indictment on charges of premeditated and attempted murder in 2010 Red Shirt demonstrations.

Mr Suthep announced the plan to supporters of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) amid ongoing protests of disgruntled farmers in several provinces against the overdue payments for the rice they have sold under the government’s subsidy scheme.

Meanwhile, Mr Suthep submitted a request to the prosecutors seeking to postpone the indictment regarding his role in the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) during 2010 political violence which launched a crackdown on the red shirt protesters, resulting in almost 100 deaths.

Nanthasak Poonsuk, director-general of the Special Cases Litigation Department, said Mr Suthep’s lawyer has been assigned to seek the delay of the indictment to March 6, reasoning that his client has to lead the anti-government protest and could not turn up as earlier requested by the department.

Mr Nanthasak said the postponement will further delay the case. The prosecutors therefore rejected the request and Mr Suthep is required to report himself to the department by Feb 13.

If he fails to report to the court by that date, Mr Nanthasak said, the prosecutors will ask the investigator to issue a summons or seek court approval to issue an arrest warrant for him.

It depends on the consideration of investigators whether they will detain or release Mr Suthep once he turns up to report himself to the authorities, Mr Nanthasak said.

In other development, the Criminal Court today approved arrest warrants for Buddhist monk Phra Buddha Issara and other four protest leaders of PDRC allies for obstructing elections in Laksi district on Feb 2 and Jan 26.

The court said there is sufficient evidence and witnesses proving that the alleged persons have committed serious criminal offences.

Pol Lt Col Udom Rujirachakorn, investigator at Thung Song Hong police station, said police are considering whether to enter the protest site occupied by Phra Buddha Issara for the monk to acknowledge the charge.

The monk’s lawyer Payap Haopramong said he will report to his client of the warrant, while also questioned the police’s move as the monk is unlikely to escape the arrest.

Regarding a recommendation from the National Office of Buddhism that Phra Buddha Issara should leave the monkhood, his lawyer said the National Office of Buddhism must first clarify what offence the monk has committed.