Thai court approves arrest warrant for protest leader

Thai court approves arrest warrant for protest leader
Thai protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban (C) addresses supporters outside the compound of the Finance Ministry after protesters stormed it in Bangkok on November 25, 2013.

BANGKOK - A Thai court approved an arrest warrant Tuesday for a top protest leader in connection with the occupation of several government ministries as part of efforts to topple the government.

"We sought an arrest warrant for Suthep (Thaugsuban) and the Criminal Court just approved it," said Colonel Sunthorn Kongklam of Bang Sue police station in the capital.

"I ask him to surrender, otherwise police can arrest him on sight."

Suthep, a former deputy prime minister and senior opposition figure, was among demonstrators who stormed the finance ministry on Monday.

He later vowed to "seize all ministries", since when demonstrators also broke into the foreign ministry and besieged several other key government buildings.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have rallied against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother, ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, in the biggest street protests since 2010, when more than 90 civilians were killed in a military crackdown.

Suthep and former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva - now the opposition leader - face murder charges for overseeing that military operation.

The recent protests were sparked by an amnesty bill that could have allowed the return of Thaksin from self-imposed exile.

Thaksin, a billionaire telecoms tycoon-turned-politician, draws strong support from many of the country's rural and urban working class.

But he is loathed by the elite and the middle classes, who accuse him of being corrupt and a threat to the monarchy.

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