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Thai court strips 'Red Shirt' leader of parliamentary seat

BANGKOK -- A Thai court stripped a top “Red Shirt” leader of his parliamentary seat Friday, in a move likely to anger supporters of the movement whose protests in Bangkok in 2010 descended into bloodshed.

The Constitutional Court in Bangkok said that Jatuporn Prompan's election was invalid because his membership of the now-ruling Puea Thai party had been nullified under the constitution when he was jailed on remand in May 2011.

The firebrand activist was elected to parliament in July 2011 elections that handed a landslide victory to the political allies of the Red Shirts' hero, fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra who lives overseas.

Thaksin's sister Yingluck Shinawatra, who is now prime minister, indicated she might give Jatuporn a seat in her cabinet despite his loss of seat.

“Jatuporn is considered a competent and dedicated person so I have to see where to place him,” she said when asked about the next reshuffle.

Judicial rulings have played a pivotal role in shaping Thailand's fractured political landscape, with courts forcing two premiers from office in 2008.

The latest verdict came one day before the Red Shirts plan a big rally to mark the second anniversary of the military crackdown on their demonstration against the government of then premier Abhisit Vejjajiva.

More than 90 people, mostly civilians, died in the 2010 unrest, which was the kingdom's worst political violence in decades and marked the culmination of a series of rival protests since a 2006 coup that toppled Thaksin.

Jatuporn was detained on charges of defaming the monarchy during a speech at a rally on the first anniversary of one of the bloodiest days of the 2010 protests. He was freed on bail when parliament convened in August 2011 and has yet to stand trial.

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