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Thailand appeals court drops treason charges against opposition activists

[JURIST] Thailand's Court of Appeal Thursday reduced insurrection charges against nine People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) [advocacy website, in Thai] activists following this week's violent clashes between police and PAD protesters [BBC report]. The court dismissed treason charges against the PAD members as groundless, but maintained the lesser charges of inciting public disturbance and illegal assembly. A spokesman for PAD was quoted in media reports as maintaining that he and his colleagues would now turn themselves into the authorities. BBC News has more; China's Xinhua News Agency has additional coverage.

The protests were triggered by opposition to the new Thai government led by Somchai Wongsawat [official profile], who took over as prime minister earlier this month after the Constitutional Court of Thailand ruled that then-prime minister Samak Sundaravej [BBC profile] had violated the constitution [JURIST report] by accepting payment for his appearance on a television cooking program. Somchai is the brother-in-law of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in military coup in 2006. Critics claim that Somchai is just a proxy for Thaksin, who remains in exile while being tried in absentia for corruption.

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