Ex-Thai PM Abhisit charged with murder

Ex-Thai PM Abhisit charged with murder
Democrat Party leader and former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (centre) arriving at Bangkok's criminal court on Thursday.

Thailand's former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has been indicted for murder over his handling of a crackdown on anti-government protesters in 2010 as the capital remains gripped by a fresh bout of political unrest.

The leader of the opposition Democrat Party, whose legislators quit en masse on Sunday to join street protests aimed at overthrowing the ruling Puea Thai party, faces murder charges for military-related casualties during the 2010 military crackdown he had authorised as premier.

More than 90 people died and scores more were injured during the incident. Suthep Thaugsuban, his then deputy who is now leading protests against the Puea Thai administration, for which he faces an arrest warrant for insurrection, also faces a murder charge over the 2010 crackdown.

He failed to show up in court on Thursday but sent his lawyer to ask for a postponement.

On Thursday morning, Abhisit was greeted at Bangkok's criminal court with taunts from relatives of those slain during the 2010 crackdown. He left in the afternoon after posting bail of 1.8 million baht (S$70,300), according to Agence France-Presse. He is also barred from leaving the country.

The pre-trial hearing for the case is expected to be held on March 24.

Both Abhisit and Suthep have denied the charges and plan to fight them in court.

The high-profile case is taking place against the backdrop of Thailand's worst political crisis since 2010 - the latest instalment of the seven-year tussle between royalists, conservatives and urban middle class, and the rural masses.

The rural masses are a vital vote bank whose votes have repeatedly returned to power political parties backed by self-exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose sister is the current caretaker premier, Ms Yingluck Shinawatra.

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