Kent

Thai demo arrest Briton Jeff Savage is freed

Jeff Savage walks to the court room at Pathumwan Municipal court in Bangkok
Image caption Jeff Savage had been held in custody since his arrest in May

A Kent man filmed apparently inciting Thai protesters to burn down a shopping centre has been freed from jail.

Jeff Savage pleaded guilty to breaching an emergency decree imposed to halt anti-government protests and was given three months.

But a Thai judge then halved the term and said he could be freed immediately.

Savage, 48, a former royal porter from Tonbridge, who has lived in Thailand for nine years, is due to be deported within days.

Dozens of people were killed during protests in Bangkok.

'No political stake'

After the ruling by judge Yutthana Sawaisuwanwong, Savage said: "It's a miracle. I am surprised. There is justice in Thailand."

And referring to two rival protest groups, he added: "I want justice for all, the dead, Red Shirts and even Yellow Shirts."

Judge Sawaisuwanwong said he was halving the sentence because Savage was not a Thai national and had no political stake in the protests.

Savage had been in custody since his arrest in May.

A lawyer, Prachaya Vijitpokin, said Savage would be taken to immigration services and detained for at least four working days. British Embassy officials are working to arrange his deportation.

Image caption The shopping centre was set on fire and destroyed during protests

He was arrested after he was captured on video appearing to exhort protesters to set fire to the Central World shopping centre in central Bangkok during major civil unrest.

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.

Savage 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."

The video was widely distributed on the internet.

At first, Savage protested his innocence and said he was "wound up after being under sniper fire" and his comments were meant to be sarcastic.

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

He was reported to have been living with his elderly parents in the beach resort of Pattaya.

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