Kent

Kent man denies involvement in Thai unrest

Firefighters at the Central World shopping complex
Image caption The shopping centre was set on fire and destroyed during protests

A Briton has appeared in court in Thailand after he was filmed inciting protesters to set fire to a shopping centre during major civil unrest.

Jeff Savage, of Tonbridge, Kent, who has lived in Thailand for nine years, was reportedly charged with violating the state of emergency decree.

The Foreign Office said the 48-year-old was remanded in custody until Monday.

Mr Savage denies any involvement in the destruction of the shopping centre, which was set alight during protests.

He was arrested last month after he was captured on video appearing to exhort protesters to set fire to the Central World shopping centre in central Bangkok.

Days later, the shopping centre was destroyed in the violence which has gripped the country since Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted as prime minister in 2006.

He was filmed wearing a bandanna and saying of Central World: "We're gonna loot everything, gold, watches, everything, and then we're gonna burn it to the ground."

'British sarcasm'

Previously, Mr Savage protested his innocence and said he was "wound up after being under sniper fire" during anti-government protests and his comments were meant to be sarcastic.

Dozens of people were killed during the red-shirts protests in the capital.

In an earlier interview from a remand prison in Bangkok, Mr Savage said: "It was definitely me, I said that."

But he added: "I was under stress when I said those things. I was emotional, I was wound up because I'd been under sniper fire.

"I said it using old British sarcasm. I was being the caricature of the British soccer hooligan."

Mr Savage once worked at Buckingham Palace as a porter in the kitchens.

The offence of violating the state of emergency decree carries a two-year prison sentence.

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