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Thailand’s Former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva Formally Charged with Murder

Abhisit Vejjajiva, the former Thai prime minister and leader of the opposition Democrat party, arrives at criminal court in Bangkok. Photograph: Narong Sangnak/EPA

Abhisit Vejjajiva, the former Thai prime minister and leader of the opposition Democrat party, arrives at criminal court in Bangkok. Photograph: Narong Sangnak/EPA

 

BANGKOK –  Thailand’s Former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thailand’s opposition leader, has been formally charged with murder in a development that has the potential to further inflame protests by his supporters demanding the resignation of the current government.

Abhisit stands charged over the deaths of a 43-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl during a crackdown on anti-government protests during 2010 when he was in power.

The Red Shirt movement had taken to the streets in support of Thaksin Shinawatra, who was thrown out as prime minister in a 2006 military coup.

Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, now holds office as prime minister and the protesters on the streets demanding her ousting are aligned with Abhisit.

About 90 people were killed in the 2010 crackdown. Other cases are still pending against Abhisit.

In 2010 the Red Shirt protesters occupied downtown Bangkok for months. Abhisit’s government approved the use of live ammunition under limited conditions and deployed sharpshooters during the demonstrations.

His lawyer said that Mr Abhisit is not allowed to leave the country until the pre-trial hearing which is expected on March 24 next year.

Mr Suthep Thaugsuban, who was Deputy Prime Minister during the Abhisit administration, is also facing similar charges but did not attend the hearing as he was occupied with his role as the leader of the current anti-government protest. His attorney was sent to request a hearing postponement.

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