Chiangrai Times – Thailand’s former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thuagsuban could be charged with murder and attempted murder in connection with their alleged involvement in the bloody military crackdown against Red Shirt protesters in the capital city in 2010.
The fate of the two top leaders of the previous government will be known next Monday when the Criminal Court issues a ruling on whether a taxi driver was killed by “government personnel” at the height of the anti-government protests as alleged by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).
Abhisit and Suthep, who chaired the now defunct military-run center for the Administration of Peace and Order, have firmly denied that they had given the orders to the military “to disperse, let alone to kill” the protesters.
The two told DSI investigators that their order to the military was only to “besiege the area” or to “reoccupy the area” from the Red Shirt demonstrators.
Abhisit spent seven hours during the DSI questioning and Suthep 12 hours to categorically deny the allegations that they had masterminded the slaying or wounding of the victims.
Both blamed heavily armed “men in black” who, they alleged, mingled with the Red Shirt demonstrators and started the killing.
Reports said that some 98 people were killed and an estimated 2,000 others injured after the military dispersed tens of thousands of Red Shirt demonstrators who marched and occupied areas along Bangkok’s Rajdamnern and Rajprasong districts.
The Red Shirts, who are loyal supporters of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, had demanded that Abhisit dissolve the House of Representatives and return power to the people.
If the court rules in favor of the DSI, the judicial process would find out sooner or later who may have given the orders for the “government personnel”, an indirect reference to soldiers, to kill the protesters while a number of other murder charges in connection with the bloodshed would follow suit.
DSI chief Tharit Pengdit said that his agency had already gathered enough pieces of evidence and questioned several witnesses, including some army soldiers, pointing to the culpability of some”government personnel” in the mass murder.
This included the deaths of six victims in the compound of a Buddhist temple near Rajprasong intersection, the focal point of the anti-Abhisit rally in 2010.
The court’s ruling on the homicide case involving the death of a taxi driver could trigger the filing of other 22 charges that would squarely put the blame on “government personnel” for the bloody incident, the DSI said.
Tharit said that the 98 deaths and the injuries of some 2,000 victims would be split into separate murder and attempted murder charges.”If a number of persons were killed at the same place, that would be filed as one case, such as the case of six people who were all killed inside the temple,” he said.
Tharit, however, said that soldiers, including dozens of army snipers, who were only following orders from superiors, may not be included in the filing of charges. Only two of the snipers, both being non-commissioned officers, have been questioned by DSI officials so far.
In the meantime, acting on behalf of the Red Shirt victims, Canadian lawyer Robert Amsterdam has filed a separate lawsuit in the Hague-based International Criminal Court against Abhisit, who is currently leader of the opposition Democrat Party in the Thai Parliament, for allegedly being criminally responsible in the military crackdown two years ago.
The former Thai premier has been sued as a British subject since he was born and raised in England and because Thailand currently remains outside of the ICC jurisdiction. – China Daily