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Ex-Thai PM slams ‘political’ protest murder charge

7-12-2012 (AFP) BANGKOK – Former Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva Friday said the decision to charge him with murder over 2010 “Red Shirt” rallies was “political”, insisting military action against protestors was to restore order.

Abhisit, who oversaw the response to the mass demonstration in Bangkok against his government, is set to appear at the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) next week for questioning over the death of a taxi driver shot by soldiers during the unrest.

But the Oxford-educated career politician told reporters that he rejected the credibility of the charge, which was announced by the DSI on Thursday.

“This case has a hidden political agenda,” said Abhisit, who was swept into opposition last year by Yingluck Shinawatra, the sister of ousted former premier Thaksin, and her Red Shirt-backed Puea Thai party.

Thailand has been repeatedly rocked by street protests by the Reds and rival royalist Yellow Shirts since Thaksin was toppled by royalist generals in a 2006 coup.

Around 90 people died and nearly 1,900 were wounded in clashes between Red Shirt demonstrators and security forces, which culminated in a bloody military crackdown in May 2010. Two foreign journalists were among those killed.

DSI chief Tarit Pengdith on Thursday said Abhisit and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban, who is also set to be charged, had repeatedly used the armed forces against civilians, showing “an intention to endanger life”.

But Abhisit denied the accusation, saying the pair’s “honest intention” was to “restore peace and order without a crackdown”.

The British-born politician suggested that the charge against him was linked to a highly controversial reconciliation bill that opponents see as an attempt to enable the return of Thaksin, who lives abroad to avoid a jail term for corruption.

“Suthep and I will not bargain for this trial… Reconciliation should be based on truth and responsibility — there is no reason to exchange that for an amnesty for people who corrupt this country,” he said.

Tarit on Thursday insisted the investigation into the unrest had not been subject to political interference and was decided on the basis of “facts and laws”.

In September an inquest — the first into the Red Shirt protest deaths — concluded that taxi driver Phan Kamkong was shot by troops.

Abhisit said he would present himself to hear the charge on December 13, a day after requested by the DSI.

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Written by Kham

07/12/2012 at 8:12 pm

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