Bangkok – The firebrand leader of anti-government protests that presaged Thailand’s 2014 military coup was indicted on treason and terrorism charges on Wednesday linked to the deadly demonstrations.
Suthep Thaugsuban, whose protest movement paralyzed Bangkok for months and led to the toppling of the elected government in May 2014, was formally charged alongside eight other Democrat party politicians.
The protests against former premier Yingluck Shinawatra were marred by violence that left 28 dead, generating unrest the army said warranted its power grab – the 12th successful takeover since 1932.
Suthep, a former deputy prime minister and nemesis of the billionaire Shinawatra clan, gave barnstorming speeches across Bangkok, leading daily marches in a self-proclaimed ”shutdown” of one of Southeast Asia’s largest cities which lasted for weeks while armed guards patrolled protests sites.
The military dispersed the rallies after toppling Yingluck and has run the country ever since.
Suthep and eight other Democrat politicians – a faction seen as aligned with the army – were charged with ”treason, illegal gathering, and incitement,” said the state prosecutor’s deputy spokesman Prayut Petkhun.
Suthep and Chumpon Julsai, a former Democrat MP, were also charged with terrorism, he told reporters.