Ex-Thai PM Abhisit faces indictment over protest crackdown

Ex-Thai PM Abhisit faces indictment over protest crackdown

BANGKOK - Thailand's attorney general has decided to prosecute former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva and his ex-deputy on murder charges related to a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests in 2010, officials said Monday.

The opposition slammed the move as an attempt to pressure it to support a controversial amnesty bill that could allow fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra to return from self-imposed exile.

About 90 people died and nearly 1,900 were wounded in a series of street clashes in 2010 between mostly unarmed "Red Shirt" demonstrators and security forces firing live rounds in central Bangkok.

Abhisit, who is now the opposition leader, and his former deputy Suthep Thaugsuban ordered security forces to reclaim areas of the capital and allowed authorities to use arms, said Nanthasak Poonsuk, a spokesman for the attorney general's office.

"Evidence shows that their orders caused others to carry out murder and attempted murder as charged," Nanthasak told reporters.

The case will now be referred to a criminal court which will decide whether to put the pair on trial.

Oxford-educated Abhisit -- who was formally charged in December -- insists he is innocent and has described the accusations against him as politically motivated.

Thailand has been racked by political turmoil since a coup by royalist generals in 2006 ousted the Red Shirts' hero Thaksin.

In the 2010 protests, the Red Shirts were demanding immediate elections, saying Abhisit's government took office undemocratically in 2008 through a parliamentary vote after a court stripped Thaksin's allies of power.

Tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators occupied parts of central Bangkok for weeks before the army ended the standoff.

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