Court throws out arrest warrant request for Asoke rally leaders

Court throws out arrest warrant request for Asoke rally leaders

Sombat Boonngam-anong leads a rally to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at Asoke junction on Sunday. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
Sombat Boonngam-anong leads a rally to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at Asoke junction on Sunday. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

The South Bangkok District Court rejected a police request on Wednesday for arrest warrants for political activists leading anti-government rallies at Asoke intersection.

The court told police at Thong Lor station to follow the process by issuing summonses for them first, considering that the charges did not bear serious penalties of more than three years if they are found guilty.

Red-shirt leader Nattawut Saikuar and red-shirt activist Somban Boonngam-anong were among the leading demonstrators targeted by police. Other activists were on the arrest warrant list but their number and identities were still unknown. 

Police alleged they broke the law by organising rallies at Asoke.

The police move came after Seksakol Atthawong, an aide to the Prime Minister’s Office minister, registered complaints at the police station against Mr Nattawut, Mr Sombat and Tanat Thanakitamnuay, accusing them of breaking the Criminal Codes by calling for rallies, which could lead to violence.

Mr Seksakol, once a red-shirt strongly loyal to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, said he acted on his own with no political orders to take action against them.

Mr Nattawut argued that the rallies were peaceful and held in line with the constitution.

The duo have led protests at the junction almost every day since last Thursday. But Mr Nattawut called off the rally on Wednesday amid speculation that the arrest warrants might have been issued by the time he and his partner were at the venue.

While the rally at Asoke was cancelled, about 300 youngsters from the Thalugaz group continued to demonstrate at Din Daeng junction, most of them on motorcycles.

Aside from the sporadic sound of giant firecrackers, the rally appeared to be peaceful. 

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