News / Asia

Former Thai PM Pleads Not Guilty to Murder Charges

Riot policemen stand guard outside the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) in Bangkok, December 13, 2012.
Riot policemen stand guard outside the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) in Bangkok, December 13, 2012.
Ron Corben
Thailand's former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has been interrogated by Justice Ministry special investigation officers. He is charged in the death of a taxi driver by security forces when in power during the 2010 crackdown against anti-government protesters. The case, in which Abhisit has pleaded not guilty, further highlights deep political divisions in the country.
 
Both Abhisit and his former party's leader Suthep Thaugsuban said they are ready to face the courts.
 
Opposition supporters allege the charges are part of efforts to pressure Abhisit to accept a general amnesty for the death and injury toll from the clashes that left more than 90 people dead and hundreds injured in April and May of 2010.
 
But according to Panitan Wattanayagorn, a former spokesman during the Abhisit government, the governing Pheu Thai Party backers have welcomed the legal moves.
 
“The Pheu Thai supporters wanted the past administrator to be prosecuted and they are very happy in the end are now moving forward. They [Pheu Thai politicians] also have their own cases in court and they also have to fight charges also," said Panitan. "By the same issue they feel the opposite [to the Abhisit supporters].”

Analysts said the legal moves appear to be part of efforts to reach agreement through a general amnesty to enable another former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, back into Thailand.
 
Thaksin has backing from the largely urban working class and in rural areas and is supported by the so-called Red Shirts movement.
 
He remains overseas to avoid a two-year jail sentence for corruption but maintains a regular presence in the Thai media and is a close adviser to the current prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, his younger sister.
 
Opposing Thaksin has been the urban elite and close supporters of the Thai monarchy.
 
“My initial reaction was that this was a little bit of revenge, possibly pushed by the Red Shirts, who really smarted a lot about the way Abhisit had them branded as terrorists," said Chris Baker, a long-time author and commentator on Thai politics and business. "But rumors that there is some kind of bargaining going on in the background all the time to find a position where they can negotiate somehow for Thaksin’s return and all of this can be part of this.”
 
Efforts at reconciliation between the competing power groups have failed to bridge the gap, said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist from Chulalongkorn University. But Thitinan said the filing of charges against Abhisit marks a new threshold in Thai politics.
 
“This is a threshold being crossed with the charges against Abhisit and Suthep. Normally, Thai government leaders would not be charged for having cracked down on protesters," said Thitinan. "So the sense of impunity, invincibility, is being challenged here and it sets a precedent.”
 
Analysts expect the legal process in the case of the former prime minister to be drawn out before a final verdict amid the on-going legal battles over the events of April and May 2010. Meanwhile several Red Shirt activists remain in prison, with others rallying outside the court calling for justice in the deaths of protesters during the crackdown.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid