Pitak Siam leader Boonlert Kaewprasit denied an allegation yesterday he was paid by ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to call off his rally on Saturday.
Gen Boonlert's surprise decision in the early evening to end the anti-Yingluck Shinawatra government rally at the Royal Plaza, over safety concerns for protesters, raised eyebrows.
Some observers believe Thaksin, who backs the government, may have persuaded him to drop his protest.
"I don't get paid by Thaksin and the rumour that someone called me to end it isn't true either," Gen Boonlert said yesterday.
"I decided to call off the rally because I didn't want any bloodshed," he said.
Tear gas was fired at demonstrators who tried to break a police barricade before the rally began. Authorities say 82 were injured in the protest.
A total of 138 people were detained for questioning for violating the Internal Security Act (ISA). All but one were later released without charge.
"I was saddened when police used tear gas against the demonstrators. And it hurt when the military did nothing," Gen Boonlert said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yingluck yesterday signed an order lifting the ISA decree issued on Thursday.
The government earlier invoked the ISA in Dusit, Phra Nakhon and Pomprap Sattruphai districts of Bangkok to help it enforce security during the rally.
Gen Boonlert said he discussed the unfolding situation on Saturday with First Army Region commander Lt Gen Paiboon Khumchaya and deputy army commander Dapong Rattanasuwan.
He said he has now resigned as Pitak Siam group leader and quit as the president of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School Alumni Foundation.
However, he said he would join any activities to protect the institution of the monarchy. He denied any conflicts within the Pitak Siam leadership.
A Pheu Thai Party member yesterday filed a complaint with Dusit police against Gen Boonlert and five other people in connection with the rally.
The five others named in the complaint were Sqd Ldr Prasong Soonsiri, Gen Pathompong Kesornsuk, Kaewsan Atipho, Samdin Lertbut and Tul Sitthisomwong.
The six are accused of treason and illegal assembly and violating the ISA, leading to clashes in which officials and others were injured. The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship also lodged a complaint against Gen Boonlert and associates for alleged treason.
Meanwhile, a civic group yesterday submitted a petition asking the National Anti-Corruption Commission to take legal action against the prime minister, the cabinet and the police chief for improper enforcement of the ISA.
The petition, filed by Bovorn Yasinthorn, chairman of the Group of Village Volunteers for the Protection of the Three Institutions, said use of the ISA must be in line with international practice to prevent violations of civil rights and liberties. But on Saturday, the law was used in a way to cause panic to society and obstruct the rally in every possible way, leading to violence, it said.
Meanwhile, the driver of a six-wheeled truck that rammed into a police barrier at Makkhawan Rangsan bridge and hurt a number of policemen during the rally has been freed on 50,000 baht bail.
Somsamai Nithachi, 58, was charged with violating the ISA, and obstructing and hurting authorities on duty. He had been detained at the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) headquarters for questioning after his arrest.The CSD yesterday submitted a request to the Dusit District Court seeking to postpone the filing of charges against the other 137 people arrested in connection with rally.
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Writer: Wassana Nanuam & Wassayos Ngamkham