Senior protest leader Sonthiyarn Cheunruethainaitham arrested in Thailand

Sonthiyarn Cheunruethainaitham is the first key anti-government protester to be arrested in Thailand's three-month-old political conflict

Thai police have made their first arrest of a senior leader of anti-government protests for violating the country's emergency law as government officials promised to apprehend other leaders of the movement, too. 

The arrest further heightens tensions in Thailand's three-month-old political conflict in which protesters seeking to overthrow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra have shut down major intersections across Bangkok. Government officials have been threatening for weeks to arrest protest leaders. 

Police arrested Sonthiyarn Cheunruethainaitham, the former managing director of news company Tnews, known for its anti-government views, said Department of Special Investigation's director-general Tharit Pengdit. He described Sonthiyarn as "a chief-of-staff" for the movement and "second most important figure" after protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban. 

"We will continue arresting more protest leaders who have violated the law in the same way," Tharit said. 

Arrest warrants have been issued for 19 leaders of the anti-government protests on the charges of violating the special law and authorities on Monday were seeking the court's approval for 13 other leaders on the same charges. 

The arrest happened just hours after six street cleaners were injured — two seriously — by a small explosion at a protest site in downtown Bangkok. At least 10 people have been killed and scores hospitalized during the political upheaval. 

The demonstrators, who mostly draw their support from the urban middle and upper class and those in the south, want Yingluck to step down to make way for an interim appointed government to implement what they say are necessary reforms to fight corruption. 

She has refused to resign, arguing she was elected by a large majority and is open to reform, but that such a council would be unconstitutional and undemocratic. 

Her government invoked the emergency decree last month following increasing attacks at protest sites prior to the Feb. 2 general election, allowing authorities to ban public gatherings, impose curfews and censor local news reports. The emergency decree, in effect for 60 days, also gives police expanded powers to make arrests, conduct searches and seize suspicious materials. 

Sonthiyarn was apprehended at a hotel in northern Bangkok and is being held for questioning at a border patrol police base in the capital's northern outskirts. Under the state of emergency, a suspect can be held for 30 days without being charged, but police must seek request for detention every seven days.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer / Systems Administrator

£25000 - £32500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in SW London, this compan...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion this leading designer and sup...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a friendly, confident i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Primary Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: At Tradewind Recruitment we are currently l...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee