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Thursday 18 September 2014

Thai junta shows detainee footage

Published 28/05/2014 | 10:42

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Military police stand guard during an anti-coup demonstration in Bangkok (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Thailand's new military junta has broadcast videos showing detained political figures in a bid to convince the public they are being treated well.

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The footage showed five detainees speaking to army officers at an undisclosed location. The most prominent among them was Jatuporn Prompan, the leader of the Red Shirt movement that had vowed to take action if the military seized power.

The army, which still holds in custody several senior officials in the government it overthrew, has summoned 253 people, mostly politicians, scholars, journalists and activists seen as critical of the regime. Seventy-six were still in custody, 124 have been released and 53 have failed to show up, a spokesman for the junta said.

Jatuporn was seized on May 22 when the coup unfolded after the army called the country's political rivals together for peace talks. He was seen in the video wearing a clean white T-shirt while talking to an army officer.

"Right now it's good," he said, chuckling. "I've been treated well."

"Now everyone knows how each other feels and that they do not want the country and everything to be damaged any further," he said, sitting at a small table with three small bottles of water and a plate of bananas and apples.

"I never asked where this location is," Jatuporn said, laughing again. "Nobody knows where it is."

The army takeover, Thailand's second in eight years, deposed an elected government that had insisted for months that the nation's fragile democracy was under attack from protesters, the courts, and finally the army.

At the centre of Thailand's deep political divide is Thaksin Shinawatra, a former prime minister supported by many rural Thais for his populist programmes but despised by others, particularly Bangkok's elite and middle classes, over allegations of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect for the monarchy.

He was ousted in 2006 and lives abroad to avoid serving prison time for a corruption conviction, but held great influence over the overthrown government, which had been led by his sister until a court ousted her this month.

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