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2010 Political Violence

Abhisit faces court over people killed during 2010 crackdown

The Criminal Court yesterday warned that Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva could have committed an abuse of authority if he had failed to follow crowd control practices or issue orders without reasonable grounds in connection with the deadly military crackdown on red-shirt protesters in April-May 2010.

Abhisit faced court yesterday to deny murder and attempted murder charges filed against him. He was prime minister at the time of the crackdown.

His co-defendant is People's Democratic Reform Committee chief Suthep Thaugsuban, the then-director of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation.

The court said Abhisit could have committed an abuse of authority in accordance with the Criminal Code or offences under the Emergency Decree law if he issued wrongful or unreasonable orders after having imposed the state of emergency.

The Office of the Attorney General's Special Cases Litigation Office accused Abhisit and Suthep of issuing orders to security officials to conduct crowd-control operations at red-shirt rallies that resulted in the deaths of taxi driver Pan Kamgong, 43, and Kunakorn Srisuwan, 14, near Ratchaprarob Airport Link station.

A van driver, Samorn Maithong, was seriously injured after being shot with bullets fired from the direction of security agencies stationed in the Ratchaprarob area.

Prosecutors filed the indictment against Abhisit on December 12. The court permitted Samorn and Nuchid Kamkong, Pan's wife, to be co-plaintiffs with prosecutors on February 13.

The plaintiffs insist that people were killed and injured as a result of the crowd control operation ordered by Abhisit because security officials used real bullets.

They said the security officials were allowed to use arms when necessary, with Suthep approving the use of real bullets and sharp shooters during the operation.

Abhisit said the National Anti-Corruption Commission was still investigating a case with similar charges against him and had yet to resolve the case.

The court, thus, decided to wait till June 23 for the NACC's investigation results to prevent repetition of witness examinations.

Chokchai Angkaew, a lawyer for the co-plaintiffs, said relatives of six people killed at Wat Pathum Wanaram during the May 19, 2010 riots had also filed suits against Abhisit and Suthep on the same charges with the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court.

The Department of Special Investigation has an arrest warrant for Suthep to prosecute him in this case but has yet to arrest him. The statue of limitation for this case is 20 years.


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