Former Thai prime minister charged with murder
December 13, 2013, 12:13 am TWN
BANGKOK -- Former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was charged with murder Thursday in connection with the 2010 deaths of two protesters killed during a crackdown on anti-government demonstrators.
The move comes amid weeks of renewed protests that have shaken the Thai capital and threatened to again plunge the country into crisis.
Abhisit, who was charged with the deaths of a 43-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl, denied all the charges in the brief court hearing.
About 90 people were killed in the crackdown, and it was not clear why Abhisit faced charges in those two deaths.
Relatives of some of those killed were waiting for Abhisit as he and his lawyer left the courthouse after a brief hearing, shouting “Murderer!” They also submitted a petition to the court, asking that he be denied bail.
The court, though, set bail at about US$19,000, which Abhisit met by putting up a house deed. The court also ordered him to remain in Thailand until his trial starts March 24.
In 2010, “Red Shirt” protesters occupied downtown Bangkok for more than two months until being dispersed in the crackdown. The Red Shirts are supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose sister Yingluck is now the prime minister.
In many ways, today's protests are the mirror opposite those three years ago, with Thaksin's supporters now in control of the government, and supporters of Abhisit's former government demanding the administration step down. The current protests have left at least five people dead.
Abhisit's government approved the use of live ammunition under limited conditions and deployed sharpshooters and snipers during the demonstrations.
His then-deputy Suthep Thaugsuban, the leader of the current protests, was also expected to face charges Thursday, though he has asked that his hearing be postponed until January.