Thai army detains fugitive ex-cabinet minister

BANGKOK - Thailand's army detained a fugitive former cabinet minister wanted by the ruling junta Tuesday in a dramatic swoop by soldiers at a packed Bangkok press briefing.

Chaturon Chaisang, who was education minister in a government ousted by the military last week, was marched out of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand surrounded by dozens of journalists, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

The veteran Thai politician was among the first batch of people summoned by the military in the hours after it took power last Thursday, but he refused to report to the authorities.

He told the packed press conference that he wanted to show his opposition to the coup - the latest in a string of 19 actual or attempted army interventions in the kingdom's modern history.

"The coup is not a solution to problems of conflict in Thailand," he told reporters, adding that to report to the junta was "against my conscience".

Chaturon was taken into custody by about five soldiers in military fatigues and several other uniformed officers while he was talking to reporters in the central Bangkok press club.

The junta has said that those who defy its order to hand themselves in face up to two years in prison and a 40,000 baht (S$1,540) fine.