19 rally leaders shrug off arrest warrants
The Criminal Court issued warrants for the arrest of 19 anti-government protest leaders on Wednesday.
However, the targeted leaders insist it will not affect their campaign to demand the caretaker government's resignation and push for national reform.
The court's decision follows a request from the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) which argues the leaders have violated the emergency decree that the government has imposed in Bangkok and nearby provinces.
Protest leaders of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) include Suthep Thaugsuban, Sathit Wongnongtoey, Chumpol Julsai, Phutthiphong Punnakun, Issara Somchai, Witthaya Kaewparadai, Thaworn Senneam, Natapol Teepsuwan, and Akanat Promphan.
Others are Anchalee Paireerak, Nitithorn Lamlua, Uthai Yodmanee, Samdin Lertbut, Gen Preecha Iamsuphan, Ratchayut Sirayothinpakdi (aka Amorn Amornrattananont), Kittichai Saisa-ard, Samran Rodphet, Sonthiyan Chuenruthainaitham and Phansuwan Na Kaew.
The Criminal Court said the complainants are officials who abide by the emergency decree. The government was imposing the decree and officials can arrest people suspected of causing an emergency situation.
Also, the complainants presented enough witnesses and evidence to support the accusation the leaders had caused the emergency situation. The judges ordered the officials to inform them of any progress made in the arrest of the suspects every three months.
It also said that when arrested, the suspects will be detained at the Regional Border Patrol Police Division 1 in Khlong Luang district of Pathum Thani province. They can only be detained for a maximum of seven days.
The court has given authorities a deadline of one year to arrest the suspects and it may lift the warrants if they fail to do so in that time.
Mr Sathit, a PDRC co-leader, said lawyers for the protest leaders would appeal against the arrest warrants. He said the decision would not affect the PDRC.
"The court's decision to issue the arrest warrants will have no effect on the operations of the PDRC," he said.
"We announced clearly when the summons came out that we will not flee but we cannot turn ourselves in because we must fight against a government of tyrants.
"We will surrender when Yingluck Shinawatra and the cabinet have been removed from their positions and the Thaksin regime is eradicated from Thailand," Mr Sathit said, referring to caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck and her elder brother Thaksin Shinawatra's alleged political influence.