Ex-Thai PM indicted for murder over crackdown

Abhisit Vejjajiva faces court as protests against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra continue in Bangkok.

    Ex-Thai PM indicted for murder over crackdown
    Protesters have reportedly demanded police leave the prime minister's offices and cut the building's power [Reuters]

    Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thailand’s former prime minister, has been indicted for murder over a deadly military crackdown on mass opposition protests in Bangkok, prosecutors have said.

    Thursday's indictment came amid fresh political turmoil, as protesters backed by Abhisit's opposition party rallied outside the Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's office calling for her ouster and the end of the influence of her brother, deposed former leader Thaksin.

    "The court accepts to hear the case," Nanthasak Poonsuk, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said outside the Bangkok court where the closed-door hearing was held.

    More than 90 people died and nearly 1,900 were wounded in the crackdown on Red Shirt demonstrations against a government headed by Abhisit, who is now opposition leader.

    A small group of Red Shirts shouted "murderer!" as the Democrat Party leader arrived at court, without speaking to waiting media.

    Abhisit and his deputy are accused of ordering a 2010 military crackdown against activists of the party now in power.

    Now, they are leading opposition protests against Yingluck, who has called for early elections in February.

    Meanwhile, anti-government protesters removed barbed wire from barricades outside Government House, where the prime minister's office is located. 

    The protesters have cut off power to the prime minister's offices and are demanding police leave the premises, AP news agency has reported.

    A small group of protesters climbed over the walls into the grounds of the office but left soon after, a Reuters news agency reporter said.

    The protesters said they wanted the police to withdraw from Government House.

    Riot police in the area held their positions and there was no confrontation and the protesters left after a few minutes.

    'Live fire' zones

    About 160,000 people massed around Government House on Monday and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra called a snap election in an attempt to end the unrest.

    The protesters rejected that and said they wanted an unelected "people's council" to govern, as they called on Yingluck and her ministers to step down now.

    She is caretaker prime minister until the election.

    "If a plane crashed with the whole cabinet in it and they all died, Thailand would still go on," protest leader Suthep told supporters late on Wednesday.

    Thaksin's supporters have said they would weigh in to defend Yingluck if Suthep seemed poised to overthrow her.

    On Wednesday, pro-Thaksin leader Jatuporn Promphan promised to mobilise crowds that dwarfed the recent anti-government protests.

    Thaksin's Red Shirt supporters brought central Bangkok to a halt for weeks in April and May 2010 in protests aimed at forcing then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to call early elections.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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