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Thailand court convicts 'yellow shirt' leader of corporate fraud

The Bangkok Criminal Court on Tuesday convicted a leader of the royalist People's Alliance for Democracy Network [BBC backgrounder], known as "yellow shirts," of corporate fraud. Yellow shirt movement founder and Thai media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul was sentenced to 20 years in prison without parole for violating the Securities and Exchange Act [text, PDF] by fraudulently securing a loan for 1.1 billion baht (USD $36 million) during the 1990s. Sondhi confessed to the charges [Bangkok Post report], and his jail term was shortened from 42 and a half years to 20 years, the maximum allowed by law. Sondhi made a request for bail on Tuesday, which the court will consider. He may also appeal [AFP report] the decision.

A Thai court in September 2010 convicted [JURIST report] Sondhi and his former television co-host Sarocha Pornudomsak of defaming former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] during their television show by accusing him of insulting the monarchy. The two were sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay fines of 20,000 baht (USD $640). The court suspended the sentence for two years, during which time both Sondi and Sarocha are on probation. Thaksin filed the suit [JURIST report] against Sondhi and several others for their claims that he tried to undermine the monarchy. Thaksin is considered the figurehead of the pro-democracy advocates known as the "red shirts." Sondhi lead the yellow shirts in street protests in 2006 that forced Thaksin to temporarily step aside.

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