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Arrest warrants sought for 16 Thai protest leaders

Posted on Jan 27 2014 | IANS

Bangkok, Jan 27 : Thailand's department of special investigation Monday approached the criminal court for issuing arrest warrants for 16 leaders of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), including main opposition leader Suthep Thaugsuban.

The 16 PDRC leaders are accused of violating the emergency decree which the government promulgated Jan 21 in Bangkok and some nearby areas for two months in order to control the ongoing protests, the Bangkok Post reported.

The emergency decree gives security agencies the power to impose curfew, detain suspects without charge, censor media, ban political gatherings of more than five people and declare parts of the capital off-limits.

Yutthana Praedam, specialist in the department of special investigation who submitted the request, said Tarit Pengdith, chief of the department of special investigation, had been called to testify at the court Monday afternoon.

Since November last year, protestors have been taking to the streets and occupying government offices, calling for reforms before the elections scheduled for Feb 2. They also want Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down.

On Sunday, protestors blocked many polling stations and disrupted advance voting ahead of next week's general elections.

Thai anti-government protest leader Suthin Tharathin was shot dead in an attack at a polling station in Bangkok. He had gone there to negotiate with the director of the polling centre to close down polling operations.

Thailand's constitution court ruled Friday that the elections can be postponed in view of the ongoing political unrest following protests that began last year.

But the government said the vote would go ahead despite the court ruling.

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