Does anyone remember Conor David Purcell, the Aussie who appeared on the red shirt stage and was fighting along with the anti-government protesters? Of course you do! How else can I explain myself that my blog post on him from earlier this month is by far the most read article on this blog. It has accumulated 1,370 clicks by today and at least nearly half of them came in this week. So what happened to him that has increased the interest again?
Well, the bloke’s in jail!
THAI police have arrested an Australian man in Bangkok for allegedly violating an emergency decree, after a court handed him a suspended sentence for a visa infringement.
Conor David Purcell, 30, was arrested and charged for breaching emergency law, an offence which carries up to two years jail time, Thai police said.
Speaking from his cell, Mr Purcell said he was a liaison for the military because he was the only one prepared to run through the bullets, the ABC reported.
Mr Purcell, who served for seven years in the Australian army, was working in Bangkok as a language teacher.
Sources from the immigration detention centre in Bangkok said Mr Purcell was a regular speaker at recent anti-government rallies in Bangkok.
A spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs said the man was detained on Sunday and charged with overstaying his visa.
“Australia Conor David Purcell arrested over Thai protests“, The Daily Telegraph, May 25, 2010
Purcell has been arrested alongside a Briton named Jeff Savage, who is accused to have taken part in the looting and the burning of the Central World shopping center shortly after the military crackdown on May 19, at least he was caught on tape yelling to do so.
Well, even prime minister Abhisit had something to say about these two.
“For the Australian man it’s not yet clear, but in the case of the Briton he’s involved with the (red shirt) movement in Pattaya,” Abhisit said. He said officials would also probe other allegations against the men.
There have been reports that Purcell was a former member of the Australian army and that he received training as a sniper, however embassy sources are understood to have suggested neither claim was true. Purcell, arrested on Sunday, is now in Klong Prem prison.
Abhisit said: “Indepth investigations will be carried out to find out whether they had any other role.”
“Two foreigners arrested“, The Nation, May 26, 2010
Both men showed up at the court today for their first hearing and while Savage was reported to have “broken down” (source), Purcell was in a fiercely defiant mood.
Dressed in orange prison-issue shirt and shorts, barefoot and shackled in leg-irons, a furious Mr Purcell was led in to Pathumwan Municipal Court in Bangkok yesterday, protesting that he was being unlawfully held.
Visibly angry at his detention, Mr Purcell, 29, a former soldier, refused to stand when told and then yelled at the judge that he would not accept the court’s right to try him. ”Nobody in this country has authority over me,” he said.
He brushed aside a representative from the Australian embassy who was asking him to be quiet and continued his tirade, shaking and pointing at the judge. ”I’m not under Thai law. I’m only obeying international law. I’m head of the red gang,” he yelled.
Jeff Savage, a British man also arrested for his role in the protest, sitting next to Mr Purcell in court, burst into tears.
“Australian launches tirade in Thai court“, The Sydney Morning Herald, May 28, 2010
To say the least, especially with the last sentence, he’s not doing himself any favor now…