Abhisit went to court to hear murder charges today, but Suthep, once his security chief, ditched the meeting. Suthep is now wanted for treason as well.
Ex-Thai PM Abhisit indicted for murder
Bangkok, 12 December
The move comes as fresh political turmoil rocks the Thai capital, with protesters backed by Mr Abhisit’s Opposition party seeking to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and rid the kingdom of the influence of her brother, deposed former leader Thaksin.
Some observers doubt British-born Abhisit will go to prison given his links to the Thai elite, and see the case as part of the country’s political brinkmanship.
Abhisit denied the charges and was freed after posting bail of $56,000, his lawyer Bandit Siripan said after the closed-door hearing.
“The pre-trial hearing is expected on 24 March next year,” he said.
Under Abhisit’s government, more than 90 people died and nearly 1,900 were wounded in street clashes in the capital in 2010 between mostly unarmed pro-Thaksin “Red Shirt” demonstrators and security forces firing live rounds.
A small group of Red Shirts shouted “Murderer!” as the Democrat Party leader arrived at court, without speaking to waiting media. There were about 10 Abhisit supporters outside the building, some holding bunches of flowers.
Thailand has seen several bouts of political turmoil since Thaksin was ousted in a military coup in 2006, with rival protests sometimes resulting in bloody unrest.
Prosecutors have accused Mr Abhisit and his former deputy Suthep Thaugsuban of issuing orders that resulted in murder and attempted murder by the security forces.
Oxford-educated Mr Abhisit ~ who was formally charged in December ~ insists he is innocent and has described the accusations against him as politically motivated.
Mr Suthep, who did not attend today’s hearing, also faces a murder charge but had asked the court to postpone his hearing. The former deputy premier is now spearheading the mass Opposition protests against Ms Yingluck, for which he faces an arrest warrant for insurrection.
Ms Yingluck has called an early election ~ set for 2 February ~ to try to calm the political turmoil. But Suthep has rejected the move, demanding the government step aside in favour of an unelected “people’s council”.
Ms Yingluck’s ruling Puea Thai Party is widely expected to win the upcoming vote, bolstered by Mr Thaksin’s enduring popularity.
He is loathed by many in the royalist elite and Bangkok middle class, but loved among the working classes and those in his rural northeastern heartland.
Parties allied to the tycoon have won every election since 2001, most recently with a landslide victory for Puea Thai in 2011.
- Ex-Thai PM Abhisit indicted for murder over rally crackdown (dawn.com)
- Abhisit’s Dems Fascist attempting to take control of Thailand (thaishortnews.wordpress.com)
- Ex-Thai PM Abhisit charged with murder over 2010 crackdown (channelnewsasia.com)
- Former Thai Premier Abhisit Formally Indicted on Murder Charges (online.wsj.com)
- Former Thai PM Abhisit charged with murder in 2010 crackdown on protesters (vancouversun.com)
- Former Thai PM charged with murder (bbc.co.uk)