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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid