Thai ex-PM questioned over rally crackdown

Abhisit Vejjajiva summoned as witness to military action against Red Shirt protesters last year that claimed 90 lives.

    Rights groups have criticised the Abhisit government's handling of last year's 'Red Shirt protests' [AFP]

    Abhisit Vejjajiva, the former Thai prime minister, has been questioned by police in connection with a deadly military crackdown on mass opposition protests in the capital Bangkok last year while he was in office.

    Abhisit, now opposition leader, made no comment to reporters as he arrived at the Bangkok Metropolitan Police headquarters on Friday, where he was summoned as a witness.

    About a dozen protesters gathered outside with signs that read "murderer" and "whoever gave the kill order must face karma".

    More than 90 people, mostly civilians, were killed and nearly 1,900 were wounded during the April and May 2010 rallies, which drew about 100,000 "Red Shirt" demonstrators at their peak.

    On Thursday Abhisit's former deputy Suthep Thaugsuban, who was in charge of national security at the time of the demonstrations, was grilled by police.

    It is the first time that top members of the previous government have been summoned for questioning over their handling of the protests, which ended when soldiers firing live rounds stormed the fortified rally site.

    'Government troops responsible'

    Thailand now has a new government allied to the Red Shirts' hero, fugitive former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, whose sister Yingluck Shinawatra became prime minister in August after victory in general elections.

    Her deputy Chalerm Yubamrung last month said that Thai authorities had clear evidence that government troops were responsible for the death of a Japanese cameraman, one of two foreign journalists killed during last year's crackdown.

    Abhisit's government invoked emergency rule to deal with the unrest, giving broad powers to the military, which deployed thousands of troops in the capital.

    Human Rights Watch, a New York-based group, said the army used snipers and crushed civil disobedience with disproportionate force during the massive protests.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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