In Thailand on Monday (9 January) hearings began in the trial of 18 people, mainly students, charged with treason and communist activities.
In Thailand on Monday (9 January) hearings began in the trial of 18 people, mainly students, charged with treason and communist activities. The defendants were arrested following a violent demonstration at Bangkok's Thammasat University towards the end of 1976.
SYNOPSIS: More than 200 troops guarded the place where the trial is being held ... the Bangkok headquarters of the Royal Thai Army's Quarter Master.
But the troops' presence did not discourage numbers of students from protesting outside the compound with banners. The protestors were both right and left-wing students, despite the fact that the original demonstrations was a struggle between left-wing students and a right wing mob supported by the army. Human rights groups abroad have also protested at the trial which is being conducted before a military court.
The trial follows a day of violence in Bangkok 15 months ago.
Supported by soldiers firing automatic weapons, hundreds of right-wingers broke into the University where left-wing students were staging a protest against the former Thai military ruler, Thamon Kittikachorn.
Forty six people died in the struggle and several hundred others were taken into custody by soldiers. They included the 18 defendants who are now on trial and who face possible death sentences for their part in the demonstration.
Many of those detained, including the defendants, belonged to the lift-wing group called the National Student Centre of Thailand, and much of the first day of the trial was taken up with evidence on its role in organising political protests and demonstrations.
But six of the defendants also heard extra charges of insulting the monarchy laid against them. They stem from the mock hanging of a student alleged to have been made up to resemble Thailand's Crown Prince Vajiralongkorm.