British 'Red Shirt' to be released from Thai prison: lawyer

8th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Briton who was arrested for joining violent "Red Shirt" street protests in Thailand will be freed Thursday after pleading guilty to violating a state of emergency, his lawyer said.

Jeff Savage was given six weeks in prison but will be released because he has already served his term, said the lawyer, Prachaya Vijitpokin.

"The court found him guilty and sentenced him to three months in jail but due to his confession the sentence was reduced by half," Prachaya told AFP.

He will be taken to the immigration authorities and is expected to be deported because he has overstayed his visa, he said.

Savage, who used to work for Queen Elizabeth II's royal household in Britain, was arrested in May and charged with breaching emergency law, an offence which carries a penalty of up to two years' imprisonment.

He was accused by the Thai government of inciting protesters to set fire to a major shopping mall, Central World.

He was seen on a video clip saying of Central World: "We're going to loot everything, gold, watches, everything, and then we're gonna burn it to the ground."

The two-month-long opposition protest in central Bangkok descended into several outbreaks of violence that left 90 people dead since mid-March, mostly civilians, and nearly 1,900 injured.

After a bloody army crackdown ended the rally in May, hardcore demonstrators set dozens of buildings ablaze including the stock exchange and Central World, which now stands in ruins.

The authorities have used their emergency powers to arrest hundreds of suspects, including most top Red Shirt leaders.

© 2010 AFP

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