Ex-Thai PM Abhisit indicted for murder over rally crackdown


Former Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (C) arrives at the court in Bangkok on December 11, 2013. Abhisit was on December 11 indicted for murder in connection with a deadly military crackdown on mass opposition protests in Bangkok three years ago, prosecutors said. AFP PHOTO

BANGKOK (AFP) - Former Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was indicted for murder Thursday in connection with a deadly military crackdown on mass opposition protests in Bangkok three years ago, prosecutors said.

The indictment comes as fresh political turmoil shakes the Thai capital, with protesters backed by Abhisit's opposition party seeking to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and rid the kingdom of the influence of her brother, deposed former leader Thaksin.

"We have indicted him (Abhisit)," Nanthasak Poonsuk, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, told AFP outside the Bangkok court where the closed-door hearing was held. "The court accepts to hear the case."

Under Abhisit's government, more than 90 people died and nearly 1,900 were wounded in street clashes in 2010 between mostly unarmed pro-Thaksin "Red Shirt" demonstrators and security forces firing live rounds.

A small group of Red Shirts shouted 'Murderer!' as the Democrat Party leader arrived at court, without speaking to waiting media.

Thailand has seen several bouts of political turmoil since Thaksin was ousted in a military coup in 2006, with rival protests spilling into the streets in sometimes bloody unrest.

Prosecutors have accused Abhisit and his former deputy Suthep Thaugsuban of causing security forces to carry out murder and attempted murder.

Oxford-educated Abhisit - who was formally charged in December - insists he is innocent and has described the accusations against him as politically motivated.

Suthep also faces a murder charge but asked the court to postpone his hearing. The former deputy premier is now spearheading the mass opposition protests against Yingluck, for which he faces an arrest warrant for insurrection.

Yingluck has called an early election - set for February 2 - to try to calm the political turmoil. But Suthep has rejected the move, demanding the government step aside in favour of an unelected "people's council".

The political conflict broadly pits a Bangkok-based middle class and royalist elite backed by the military against rural and working-class voters loyal to Thaksin, who lives in self-exile in Dubai.


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Abhisit Vejjajiva , THAILAND , BANGKOK , MURDER

   

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