Thailand’s Corrections Department says a media mogul who led a campaign to oust Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra from office in 2006 has been freed early from a 20-year prison sentence for financial fraud. The department announced yesterday that Sondhi Limthongkul was released under the terms of a pardon marking King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s April coronation but a misunderstanding of his case delayed his freedom. Sondhi founded the People’s Alliance for Democracy, popularly known as the Yellow Shirts, whose demonstrations in 2006 calling for Thaksin to leave office drew popular support and led to a military coup in September that year. Sondhi was sentenced in 2012 to 20 years in prison for filing a fraudulent financial report, but went to prison only in 2016 after the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment.
India: Explosion at fireworks factory kills at least 16
A large explosion at a fireworks factory in northern India yesterday killed at least 16 people and caused the building to catch fire and collapse, officials said. Police officer Mukhtiar Singh said 15 other people were injured in the blast in Batala, a town in Punjab state about 460 kilometers north of New Delhi. Deepak Bhatia, a state government administrator, said the cause of the explosion was being investigated. The building caught fire after the blast, he said. Television images showed a brick-lined building that had completely collapsed from the force of the explosion. Fireworks manufacturing is a big business in India, with firecrackers often used in festivals and weddings. Many illegal factories produce firecrackers that are cheaper to buy than legally made fireworks.
Philippines: Duterte fires prisons chief amid uproar on convicts’ release
The Philippine president has fired the government’s top prison official amid a public outcry over the release of hundreds of prisoners, including convicted rapists and drug traffickers, through a law rewarding good behavior in detention. President Rodrigo Duterte said in a news conference yesterday that Undersecretary Nicanor Faeldon of the Bureau of Corrections would immediately resign for disobeying his order to halt the release of convicted prisoners under the 2014 law. Duterte said about 1,700 prisoners have been freed since the law took effect and that some may have paid their way to freedom. The releases sparked an outcry over plans to release a former town mayor convicted in the killings of two students, including one who was gang raped before being shot.