A top “Red Shirt” leader accused of terrorism over his role in last year’s opposition rallies was on Wednesday freed on bail, only to be immediately re-arrested on defamation charges, his lawyer said.
Arisman Pongruangrong, who narrowly avoided capture by police commandos in April 2010 by climbing out of the third-floor window of a Bangkok hotel, surrendered to authorities in early December after nearly 20 months on the run.
His first two bail requests were rejected but the appeal court in Bangkok agreed to release Arisman upon posting bail of six million baht ($190,000).
“The court said he showed his intention to return to fight terrorism charges,” his lawyer Suchaiwut Chaosuanklauy told AFP, adding that he is banned from travelling abroad.
But soon after Arisman walked free on Wednesday evening, he was arrested again over charges related to slandering a member of the main opposition Democrat Party.
Arisman’s lawyer said he would request bail for his client on Thursday.
Arisman is believed to have hidden in neighbouring Cambodia after fleeing the capital in the wake of the bungled attempt to arrest him last year in connection with mass anti-government protests that turned deadly.
He also faces charges related to the Red Shirts’ storming of an Asian summit in the Thai resort city of Pattaya in 2009, forcing its cancellation as leaders were evacuated.
Also on Wednesday, another Red Shirt leader was sentenced to two years and eight months in jail for leading an attack by a group of Reds on rival royalist “Yellow Shirt” protesters in 2008 in the northeastern province of Udon Thani.
Kwanchai Praipana, who also faces terrorism charges over his role in the protests last year, was freed on bail ahead of his appeal.
More than 90 people, mostly civilians, were killed and nearly 1,900 were wounded during the two months of rallies last year, which drew about 100,000 Red Shirts, many of whom support fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
The controversial ex-leader’s sister Yingluck Shinawatra is now prime minister after a resounding election victory by his party earlier this year.