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Thai protest leaders face charges

BANGKOK — Protest leaders in Thailand were indicted Thursday for storming the prime minister’s office compound and sealing off Parliament during massive antigovernment rallies in 2008 at the height of political turmoil, which left the country deeply divided.

Prosecutors filed charges against Sondhi Limthongkul, Chamlong Srimuang, and other leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, also known as the Yellow Shirts.

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They face up to five years in prison for trespassing at Government House during an August 2008 rally, in which protesters stormed the compound and thousands occupied the grounds for weeks. They face an additional seven years in prison for blockading the Parliament in an October 2008 rally that injured hundreds.

They also led a two-week seizure of Bangkok airports but have not yet been charged for that.

Mostly hailing from the urban elite, the Yellow Shirts vehemently opposed former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a telecommunications tycoon whose democratically elected government was in power from 2001 until it was overthrown in a 2006 military coup. The Yellow Shirts claimed that he was corrupt and that his proxies were running the country after he went into exile following the coup.

His sister, Yingluck, is now premier, which critics say has accelerated long-stalled legal cases against opponents of Thaksin, who says the corruption charges are trumped up.

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