BANGKOK - Former Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was indicted for murder Thursday in connection with a deadly military crackdown on mass opposition protests in Bangkok three years ago, prosecutors said.
The move comes as fresh political turmoil rocks the Thai capital, with protesters backed by Abhisit's opposition party seeking to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and rid the kingdom of the influence of her brother, deposed former leader Thaksin.
"We have indicted him (Abhisit)," Nanthasak Poonsuk, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, told AFP outside the Bangkok court where the closed-door hearing was held. "The court accepts to hear the case."
Under Abhisit's government, more than 90 people died and nearly 1,900 were wounded in street clashes in the capital in 2010 between mostly unarmed pro-Thaksin "Red Shirt" demonstrators and security forces firing live rounds.
A small group of Red Shirts shouted "Murderer!" as the Democrat Party leader arrived at court, without speaking to waiting media. There were about 10 Abhisit supporters outside the building, some holding bunches of flowers.
Thailand has seen several bouts of political turmoil since Thaksin was ousted in a military coup in 2006, with rival protests sometimes resulting in bloody unrest.
Prosecutors have accused Abhisit and his former deputy Suthep Thaugsuban of issuing orders that resulted in murder and attempted murder by the security forces.
Oxford-educated Abhisit - who was formally charged in December - insists he is innocent and has described the accusations against him as politically motivated.
Some observers doubt British-born Abhisit will go to prison given his links to the Thai elite, and see the case as part of the country's political brinksmanship.