Leaders of the anti-government protests in Thailand have been granted bail after surrendering to police to face charges of leading demonstrations and the illegal occupation of Bangkok's Government House.
The surrenders come after a court ruling that revoked treason charges against the leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy, and the release from jail of two of the leaders who had been arrested.
Among the PAD leaders is Sondhi Limthongkul, an outspoken media mogul, and Somkiat Pongpaibul, a Democrat Party member of Parliament. Others are Pipop Thongchai, Somsak Kosaisuk, Suriyasai Katasila, Amorn Amornratananont and Therdpoom Chaidee.
"The police have granted bail to all protest leaders unconditionally," Sondhi is quoted as saying by Agence France-Press.
Somkiat vowed that demonstrations would continue, and that PAD would take their protest directly to the police in answer for Tuesday's police violence against PAD, in which more than 400 people were injured and two were killed. PAD had blockaded Parliament in an effort to stop new Prime Minister Somchai Wongasawat from making his maiden policy speech.
"On Monday morning, PAD will send our representatives to different locations all over the country. At 10am we will gather in front of the national police headquarters," Somkiat is quoted as telling reporters.
Two other PAD leaders, former army general Chamlong Srimuang and Chaiwat Sinsuwong, who were arrested last week, were released on bail on Thursday, and they immediately returned to the PAD rally stage at Government House.
Treason charges against the PAD leaders was dropped on the grounds that police evidence was vague. PAD leaders had refused to surrender to police on charges of treason, which carries the death penalty or a life sentence.
In other developments in the Thai political crisis:
- The Central Administrative Court granted an injunction in a case filed against Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and the police, filed by six PAD protesters injured in Tuesday's violent street clashes. Read why at Bangkok Pundit.
- Former deputy prime minister Chavalit Youngchaiyudh, who resigned in the wake of the violence, told the Bangkok Post that the only way to break Thailand's political deadlock is another military coup.
- A Thai Airways International captain has been suspended after he denied boarding to three members of Parliament from the ruling People's Power Party.
- Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn spoke at a school in Connecticut. She was asked whether she agreed with protesters who say they are acting on behalf of the monarchy. "I don't think so," she is quoted as saying. "They do things for themselves." Asked why His Majesty has not spoken out, she said, "I don't know because I haven't asked him." She furhter stated: "There are a lot of political problems. I told my friends, colleagues just to do what is their duty."