Thailand’s former prime minister says will fight indictment

BANGKOK (TIP): A former Thai prime minister and his deputy vowed on October 29 to fight any legal charges against them for their alleged role in the death of anti-government demonstrators during a bloody 2010 crackdown. Ex-premier Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters that he and former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban are innocent in part because a Bangkok civil court ruled at the time that the protest, which had shut down a vast swath of downtown Bangkok for more than two months, was unlawful. “We will not run away. We are confident in our innocence,” Abhisit said. On Monday, Thai prosecutors announced they would indict the pair for their alleged role in the death of some of the 90 people, mostly protesters, who were killed during the “Red Shirt” rallies in Bangkok three years ago. The rallies saw tens of thousands of people camp out in the heart of the city in a bid to try to force Abhisit to call early elections. Most of the protesters were supporters of another former premier, Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin was ousted in a military coup in 2006 and lives in exile to avoid a conviction on corruption charges he says were politically motivated. His sister Yingluck Shinawatra now holds the prime minister’s post. The move to indict Abhisit and his deputy follows a controversy surrounding the draft of a law that could grant amnesty to those involved in the political conflict that has marred the country for almost a decade. The draft has been criticized by opponents — including Abhisit — who say it would whitewash Thaksin’s crimes and pave the way for his return to Thailand. The draft would also give immunity to Abhisit and Suthep for any involvement in the 2010 crackdown, however, and there is speculation the indictment is being used to pressure Abhisit and his opposition party to approve the bill.

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