2 men sentenced for Bangkok courthouse blast

2 men sentenced for Bangkok courthouse blast
The attack by the pair was the second small blast to hit Bangkok in as many months after twin pipe bombs detonated outside Siam Paragon mall. In this photo, Thai police Lieutenant General Prawut Thavornsiri shows pictures of what the police say are two suspicious-looking people caught on CCTV footage whom they are trying to identify in relation to the bombings outside Siam Paragon.

BANGKOK - Two Thai men were handed five-month jail sentences Tuesday for their alleged involvement in a grenade attack outside a criminal court in Bangkok this month.

Thai authorities said Mahahin Khunthong and Yutthana Yenpinyo, both 34, drove up to the entrance of the capital's main criminal court and threw an RGD-5 grenade into the car park on the evening of March 7.

No one was injured in the attack, which the pair admitted carrying out, the court said.

The attack was the second small blast to hit Bangkok in as many months after twin pipe bombs detonated outside a busy shopping mall in early February, wounding two people.

Thailand's military rulers -- who installed martial law in May and seized power in a coup -- have blamed both attacks on activists linked to the "Red Shirt" movement loyal to ousted premiers Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra, something the group has vehemently denied.

Shortly after the first bombing Thailand's junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha spoke out against widespread rumours on social media that the military were behind the blasts to reinforce the need for martial law.

Pressure has been mounting on the junta to lift the controversial restrictions, with an increasing number of opponents saying debate is being stifled just as Thailand needs it most.

National police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri told AFP Tuesday a total of 14 people have been arrested over both blasts while three more were wanted for questioning.

The most recent arrest was of Natthatida Meewangpla -- a 37-year-old nurse who had been missing since March 11, when relatives said she was taken away by soldiers without explanation.

"She has been charged with terrorism, collaborating in trying to kill and weapon possession," Prawut said.

Initially Thailand's junta denied holding the nurse, a prominent witness to a bloody 2010 crackdown by the military against Red Shirt protesters in which at least 90 were killed, including a nurse and two foreign journalists.

But on Tuesday she was publicly handed over by the military to the police.

Footage broadcast on local news channels showed the pink-haired nurse flashing the three-fingered salute from the Hunger Games movies -- a symbol of resistance adopted by critics of the junta.

Public Red Shirt resistance to the coup has been muted, with leaders under observation by the military and warned against organising political rallies.

Thailand has been blighted by nearly a decade of political turmoil since billionaire former premier Thaksin shook up the establishment by winning elections with his populist politics.

Parties led by him or his allies have won every election since 2001.

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