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May 30, 2017

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Thai PM may face murder charges over protest deaths: lawyer

BANGKOK -- Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra could face murder charges after relatives of two anti-government protesters who died following clashes with police filed a complaint with a criminal court, a lawyer said Tuesday.

The protesters were among six people — including two policemen — who died after an outbreak of violence on Feb. 18, which saw barrages of gunfire and at least one grenade thrown at police in Bangkok's historic heart as officers tried to clear a protest site near Government House.

Under Thai law the court will now have to decide whether the complaints are strong enough to warrant trial, lawyer Chaiwat Sittisuksakul told AFP.

The broad daylight bloodshed, just yards from the city's backpacker zone, was the deadliest episode in four-months of protests aimed at ousting Yingluck and her government.

A government spokeswoman said authorities used only riot shields, batons and rubber bullets during the action.

The murder complaint was also lodged against five other people, Chaiwat added, including Labour Minister Chalerm Yubamrung — who Yingluck appointed to oversee the emergency response to the ongoing rallies —, the national police chief and other senior law enforcement officers.

"The court has set a preliminary examination where we will present evidence to prove there are grounds for the accused to go on trial," he said.

Both police and protesters have denied using real bullets, although rights groups accuse both sides of using live rounds in the clash.

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