A Thai court granted bail on Tuesday to seven anti-government "red shirt" leaders charged with "terrorism", their lawyer said, a move that could ease political tensions in the divided country.
The seven had been held since bloody clashes last May between troops and demonstrators that sparked rioting and arson across Bangkok and several northern cities, which prosecutors say the leaders instigated.
Bangkok Criminal Court said the seven could be released immediately on condition that they did not leave the country or incite violence, lawyer Narinpong Jinapak told Reuters.
The mostly urban and rural working-class red shirts have held regular protests in Bangkok in recent months, many in defiance of strict security laws, demanding that the court release their leaders. More than 30,000 gathered outside the Supreme Court on Sunday ahead of the bail hearing. .
Jatuporn Prompan, a red shirt leader and lawmaker who avoided detention due to his parliamentary immunity, welcomed their release but said the mass demonstrations would continue.
"We're satisfied with the court's decision, but our protests do not end here," he told Reuters. "There are other issues that still need to be addressed."
A total of 91 people were killed and more than 1,800 wounded in clashes that erupted in April and May when the military launched a series of offensives to break up a crippling, 10-week rally that shut down large parts of Bangkok's commercial heart.
ReutersLast Mod: 22 Şubat 2011, 13:07