Australian, Briton charged with Thai protest crime

A Briton and an Australian who joined Thailand`s anti-government protests were charged on Thursday with inciting violence and committing other crimes that could lead to two years in prison.

Updated: Jun 17, 2010, 15:31 PM IST

Bangkok: A Briton and an Australian who joined Thailand`s anti-government protests were charged on Thursday with inciting violence and committing other crimes that could lead to two years in prison.

Both men denied the charges, which allege they violated an emergency decree imposed during the two-month protests and still in effect. Street clashes between so-called Red-Shirt protesters and government forces killed almost 90 people and injured over 1,400 before they were ended last month.

Briton Jeff Savage, 48, screamed abusive comments about Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as he was led past reporters, calling him "a murderer" and insulting Abhisit`s wife.

Australian Conor Purcell, 30, is accused of inciting violence by making incendiary speeches on the main stage at the protesters` encampment.

"I`m confident I can beat the charges," Purcell said to reporters.

Video footage of surfaced on the Internet of Savage purportedly stating his intention to set fire to the CentralWorld shopping mall, one of Thailand`s largest, after the military broke up the protests May 19.

"We`re gonna smash the Central (World) Plaza, we`re gonna loot everything, gold, watches, everything, and then we`re gonna burn it to the ground," Savage says in the video posted to YouTube. Later in the day, the shopping mall was devastated by an arson fire.

Savage, a Kent native who has lived on and off in Thailand for nine years, claims he was not involved in the burning of the mall. He has acknowledged having been at state-owned Channel 3 TV station when protesters set it on fire — but says he did not participate.

Both have been detained for nearly a month. The court set the next hearing for July 28, when witnesses will be called to the stand.

Bureau Report