Thai court releases British anti-government protester after guilty plea, will be deported

By Kinan Suchaovanich, AP
Thursday, July 8, 2010

British protester in Thailand will be deported

BANGKOK — A Briton involved in bloody anti-government protests was freed Thursday by a Thai court after pleading guilty to various charges and will be deported within the next few days.

The court convicted Jeff Savage, 48, of inciting violence, violating an emergency decree imposed during the two-month-long protests and other crimes. Savage broke down and cried after hearing the verdict.

“It’s a miracle. I am surprised. There is justice in Thailand. I want justice for all, the dead, Red Shirts and even Yellow Shirts,” he said, referring to a rival protest group.

The street clashes between so-called Red Shirt protesters and government forces killed almost 90 people and injured over 1,400 before the demonstrations were suppressed in May. The emergency decree imposed during the violence is still in effect in Bangkok and 18 other provinces.

Savage, a native of Kent, was caught on camera the day rioters set fire to one of Bangkok’s largest shopping malls saying that he would “loot” and “burn (everything) to the ground.” The video was widely circulated on the Internet.

He was originally sentenced to three months in prison, but judge Yutthana Sawaisuwanwong said in his final verdict that because Savage was not a Thai national and had no political stake in the protests, the sentence would be halved. Since Savage has already served time in jail, he could be released immediately, the judge said.

Savage will be taken to the Immigration Police and detained for at least four working days, according to his lawyer, Prachaya Vijitpokin. The British Embassy will work with the Immigration Police to arrange for his deportation.

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