Bangkok, the 28th of May 2010 [PDN]: Jeff Savage, a British national, is facing the possibility of a death sentence for his role in the Red Shirt rioting that broke out in Bangkok on Wednesday last week. Fronting court Savage was tearful, stating that his continued incarceration was distressing his 80-year-old mother.
Led into court barefoot and in leg-irons, Savage struggled with guards as he insisted he was being blamed for the crimes of others, “We’re being scapegoated. Where’s all the other people who were in the protest? … We’re being made scapegoats. We’re political prisoners.” Led from the court, Savage was again defiant: “They won’t gag us. This is a political case … they’re charging me with a criminal case.”
The British embassy is providing Savage, of Tonbridge, Kent, with consular assistance. The 48-year-old has not yet been charged, but Pathumwan municipal court in central Bangkok today heard that police investigations were continuing into his role with the redshirts. At present he is facing a charge for breaking the government imposed emergency decree, which carries a maximum 2-year jail sentence, but authorities are believe to be intent on pressing further with investigations in order to lay more serious charges.
Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva addressed Savage by stating that he was known to be a long-term member of the anti-government Red Shirts and that authorities were still investigating his exact involvement in the Bangkok riots. “In the case of the Briton, he’s involved with the [redshirt] movement in Pattaya. In-depth investigations will be carried out to find out whether he had any other role,” Abhisit stated.
Irish-Australian national, Conor Purcell also appeared in court alongside Savage, where he also proceeded to somewhat berate the magistrate despite embassy officials attempts to calm the situation. “Nobody in this country has authority over me. I’m not under Thai law. I’m only obeying international law. I’m head of the red gang,” he yelled at the court.
Purcell, accused of inciting violence through a series of incendiary speeches made on the Red Shirts main protest stage, continues to claim that he merely explained to the Thai people what had been occurring on the frontline of the clashes with government forces. He further stipulated that he was acting simply as a peace broker between the two waring parties.
Both Savage and Purcell have had their detentions in Bangkok remand prison extended under the emergency decree for another week. They will reappear in court on 4 June.