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Thailand 'Red Shirts' leader sentenced to prison

By Elizabeth Shim
Thailand 'Red Shirts' leader sentenced to prison
Jatuporn Promphan, a leader of Thailand’s “Red Shirts,” was sentenced to prison on Thursday. File Photo by Narong Sangnak/EPA

July 20 (UPI) -- A leader of Thailand's "Red Shirts" movement has been sentenced to prison for defamation.

The decision from Thailand's supreme court on Thursday overturns two lower court rulings over remarks made by Red Shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan regarding former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

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Jatuporn had told a crowd of supporters in 2009 Abhisit was responsible for the deaths of Red Shirt supporters during a protest in Bangkok, Khaosod English reported.

Abhisit had sued Jatuporn for defamation the same year, but lost several cases because Jatuporn's comments were deemed free political discourse, according to the report.

The Red Shirts are loyal to ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was removed from power in 2006 following a coup.

The group with a strong rural base also endorsed Thaksin's sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, who had been serving as prime minister prior to a military coup in 2014.

The Red Shirts have been opposed to or have been critical of the continued rule of the military junta, while their rivals, sometimes referred to as the Yellow Shirts, have supported the army's takeover.

Jatuporn was found guilty on Thursday of defaming Abhisit, because he had publicly accused the conservative former prime minister of ordering the massacre of Red Shirt supporters at the Bangkok rally.

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Thaksin faces corruption charges in Thailand and has lived in exile since 2008.

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