Former Thai PM facing murder charges | Connect Asia

Former Thai PM facing murder charges

Former Thai PM facing murder charges

Updated 7 December 2012, 16:36 AEST

The former Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy are set to face murder charges over the death of a taxi driver who was shot by the Thai military during political unrest in 2010.

If the charges are formally laid, they'll be the first to result from deadly street clashes and a military crackdown around the long running anti-government Redshirt protests almost three years ago.

But Mr Abhisit's party says it has not been formally notified that charges are imminent.

Correspondent: Zoe Daniel

Speaker: Abhisit Vejjajiva, former Thai Prime Minister

ZOE DANIEL: The 2010 anti-government Red Shirt protests attracted almost 100,000 people at their peak. Still angry over a 2006 coup that ousted working class idol Thaksin Shinawatra, their objective was to force the so-called elitist government to stand down and hold a general election.

In the end that did happen - Thaksin's sister Yingluck is now prime minister - but not before weeks of street clashes and an eventual military crackdown that killed 90 people and injured almost 2,000.

There have been no prosecutions but a recent inquest into the death of a taxi driver found that he was shot by the army, caught in a hail of bullets when he went to investigate gunshots. He was not a protester.

Abhisit Vejjajiva was the prime minister at the time but he continues to stand by what he did to restore order. This interview was recorded last year.

ABHISIT VEJJAJIVA: We've had a number of independent commissions, we're making progress with the cases.

ZOE DANIEL: So you're saying you won't accept responsibility until there's a result from those investigations?

ABHISIT VEJJAJIVA: I'm saying- I'm saying the truth needs to be known. But I can confirm that the kind of wild allegations made against me, that I ordered a violent crackdown, killings, that doesn't just square up with the facts if you look at the chronology of events.

ZOE DANIEL: What does that mean? Who ordered the army in if it wasn't you?

ABHISIT VEJJAJIVA: It was clear that no losses would have taken place had there been no armed elements infused among protesters firing bombs, grenades, bullets at the military and possibly at people as well.

ZOE DANIEL: So you put the blame on the Red Shirts for forcing your hand to send the military in, is that what you're saying?

ABHISIT VEJJAJIVA: We- I'm saying that we had to uphold the law and we were under tremendous pressure because they were causing a lot of trouble for ordinary people.

ZOE DANIEL: A recent reconciliation commission report found both the Thai military and a shadowy group among the demonstrators responsible for deaths and violence during the protests.

The plan to charge Mr Abhisit and his deputy Suthep was announced after a meeting of Thailand's Department of Special Investigation, the police and the Department of Public Prosecutions.

It's difficult to know whether they'll follow through or if the announcement is an attempt to appease the Red Shirts, who are still seeking accountability.

A spokesman for Mr Abhisit's Democrat Party says he's in part protected by the fact that he was making decisions as the leader of the country at the time of the unrest, and there's been no formal notification that he'll be charged.

The Department of Special Investigation says Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep will be summoned by letter for questioning on December the 12th.

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