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Thais demand release of protest leaders, defy ban

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Thailand's capital Saturday evening, demanding the release of protest leaders jailed for calling on the country's Prime Minister to resign.

Demonstrators defied a Friday ban on public gatherings in Bangkok, as they stood outside of a courthouse.

Some burned photographs of Thailand's king, others held placards that said 'Abolish 112', which refers to a Thai law prohibiting anyone from insulting or defaming the king.

Protester Pornsawan Pitaporn was among the crowd.

"I'm here at the criminal court because I want to demand the release of my friends who got arrested because they expressed their political ideas which is basic human rights and it is legitimate."

A youth-led protest movement began last year that called for reform to the powerful monarchy, and for Prime Minister and former junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha to step down.

Thai courts have denied recent requests to release some of those jailed on bail.

The Royal Palace has declined to directly comment on the protests.

For the first time last Sunday, police used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons to disperse crowds.

Ten protesters and 26 police were injured.