Leader of Thai Yellow Shirt movement sentenced to jail for corporate fraud

The founder of Thailand's Yellow Shirt movement, the media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for corporate fraud.

Sondhi (64) was found guilty of falsifying documents to secure a business loan worth about US$32 million (over 1 billion Thai baht) in 1997, according to the Bangkok Post.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's South-East Asia correspondent says that he was released on bail and is expected to appeal the sentence.

Sondhi's People’s Alliance for Democracy, or Yellow Shirts, were behind protests that led to a coup against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006.

Subsequent protests in 2008 saw two pro-Thaksin prime ministers forced from office by court rulings, BBC News explains.  

However, in 2010 tensions rose between Thaksin's Red Shirt supporters and the royalist Yellow Shirts, resulting in violent protests and a deadly military crackdown in 2010.

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The Associated Press says that both Sondhi and Thaksin were among a small group of businessmen who built empires during Thailand’s boom years of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when loose regulation fostered speculation in the stock and property markets.

Sondhi was an "enthusiastic supporter" of Thaksin when he become Prime Minister in 2001, and the men had been casual business partners, according to the news agency. 

They later fell out for unknown reasons and in 2010 Sondhi was convicted of defaming Thaksin and handed a six-month suspended jail sentence, AFP reports.

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