On 28 October, 2013, former Prime Minister, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy Mr. Suthep Thaugsuban, were indicted for their role in the deaths of demonstrators during the crackdown on Red Shirts protests in 2010.
The military operations and the use of live ammunition that was applied to suppressed the unrest three years ago have left more than 90 people dead and thousands other injured.
A spokesman for the Attorney General’s office, Nanthasak Poolsuk, said Monday at the Government Complex that the former prime minister and former deputy premier face charges for issuing the orders that led to deaths and injuries of others.
The charges were made after the Office of Attorney General (OAG) have agreed with the proposal made by the Division of Special investigation (DSI) that the two men are guilty for their decision to allow the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) to launch the area reclaim operations on the United front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) supporters from April – May 2010.
The evidence that was put forth against them by the DSI is amount to 9 boxes, 61 folders and 11,242 pages. The OAG said it had sufficient substantiation including accounts from witnesses and orders to the then CRES to clamp down on the protesters. At the time, Mr Suthep was in charge of the now-defunct centre on behalf of Mr Abhisit.
According to sections 59, 80, 83, 84 and 288 of the criminal code, the formal charge that was brought against them is “cooperating together in causing other to commit murder and/or attempting to kill other by foreseeing the result in advance”, (ร่วมกันก่อให้ผู้อื่นฆ่าและพยายามฆ่าคนตายโดยเจตนาเล็งเห็นผล). Mr. Abhisit and Mr. Suthep’s decisions for the CRES to launch the military crackdown and allow them to use live ammunition are considered as “excessive” used of forces against protestors, said the OAG spokesperson.
In response to the indictment, Mr Chavanont Intarakomalyasut, a spokesperson for Democrat Party, said the OAG’s decision is no surprise to Mr. Abhisit and Mr. Suthep.
“Both of them will continue to fight in court,” Mr Chavanont said. “Mr. Abhisit and Mr. Suthep are ready to face the charge in order to represent as good example for the current and future Prime Minister,” he added.
According to the Democrat spokesperson, the OAG’s decision was planned in advance and the DSI had been actively working on the case since the Phuea Thai government came to power. He also accused the current government for pressuring Mr. Abhisit and Mr. Suthep to accept the ‘Amnesty for all’ bill through the charges that was made against them.
“The two individuals insisted that they will not accept amnesty in any forms. It is ineffective if the government believes they could pressure Democrat MPs to accept the controversial Amnesty Bill,” Mr Chavanon remark.
Mr Abhisit said maintained on Monday that the charge brought against him was false and said he had already lodged complaints with prosecutors.
“If what I and Suthep did was wrong, I will accept it and will acknowledge that whoever in the future is in the same position as Suthep and I were that day can no longer do the same,” Mr Abhisit said.
Another response for the OAG decision was from Mr. Sunai Phasuk, Thailand representative of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, who welcomed the news and said “This is unprecedented; it is the first time a Thai prime minister has been indicted for a crackdown.”
Mrs Tida Tavonseth, president of the UDD also applauded the OAG’s decision to indicted Abhisit and Suthep.
“It is clear that a blanket amnesty which will cover these two individuals is unjustifiable by the Thai society and the Red Shirt supporters because the courts have ruled that more than 10 Red Shirts were killed by bullets fired from the positions of the security forces. It has been three years and it may seem that justice was delayed but we should let it run its course in the judicial process,” said the president of the UDD.
Mrs Tida also commented on Mr Abhisit and Suthep’s decision to fight for their case in court by highlighting their misguided confident.
“Abhisit and Suthep are willing to fight for their case in court because:
1. They are confident that the emergency decree that they have issued in 2010 will protect them from their wrongdoing by citing that they have not used excessive force according to the mentioned decree.
2. They will probably passed on the accountability to the active commanding officers at the time
3. They still believe in the Am-mart network and its influences in the judicial system which should not be so harsh on them”
As for the latest update, since both men are MPs, they have immunity until parliament closes at the end of December before their trial can begin.