Sunday 20 April 2014

Ex-Thai premier charged with murder

Thai former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has been charged with murder over the deaths of two protesters (AP)

Thailand's former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has been formally charged with murder in connection with the deaths of protesters killed during a crackdown on anti-government demos in 2010.

Abhisit is charged with the deaths of a 43-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl. He denies the charges.

About 90 people were killed in the crackdown, and other cases are still pending against Abhisit.

In 2010, "Red Shirt" protesters occupied Bangkok city centre for months. The Red Shirts support former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose sister Yingluck is now the premier.

Today, Thaksin's supporters control the government, and backers of Abhisit's former government are demanding the current administration step down.

Abhisit's government approved the use of live ammunition under limited conditions and deployed sharpshooters during the 2010 demonstrations.

The move comes amid weeks of renewed protests that have shaken the Thai capital and threatened to again plunge the country into crisis.

Relatives of some of those killed were waiting for Abhisit as he and his lawyer left the courthouse after a brief hearing, shouting "Murderer!".

They also submitted a petition to the court asking that he be denied bail.

The court set bail at about 19,000 US dollars (£11,000), which Abhisit met by putting up a house deed. The court also ordered him to remain in Thailand until his trial starts on March 24.

In many ways, the current protests are the mirror image of those three years ago, with Thaksin's supporters now in control of the government, and supporters of Abhisit's former government demanding the administration step down.

The new protests have left at least five people dead.

Press Association

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