The two top Democrats facing charges over the 2010 political mayhem declared on Tuesday that they were ready to face trial and fight for their corner in court.
Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and MP Suthep Thaugsuban also threatened to file a counter-lawsuit accusing the Attorney General of wrongfully deciding to indict and prosecute them.
Abhisit said he and Suthep would report to the prosecutors within Thursday's deadline to acknowledge the charges of instigating others to kill or attempt to kill during the 2010 red-shirt protests.
The prosecutors had previously summoned them to acknowledge the outcome of the prosecution review before deciding to make a decision on a trial, he said.
The Democrat leader also voiced confidence that he and Suthep could clear their names because relevant legal provisions and factual evidence were in the defence's favour. He added that as prime minister and deputy PM, he and Suthep had the legal mandate to oversee the Centre for Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES), which was tasked with handling crowds.
Also, he said, a series of judicial rulings have confirmed that the protests were illegal and not in accordance with peaceful assembly, the right to which is enshrined in the Constitution. He added that the prosecutors also neglected to address the issue of the armed "men in black".
The prosecution curiously chose not to mention the presence of armed men despite the ongoing trials on terrorism charges involving a number of rally organisers and red guards, he said.
DSI's role questioned
The former PM also said the prosecutors failed to heed his question on the mandate of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to look into the supervision of the CRES. The case should be under the purview of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, he pointed out.
The DSI cited in its report that the two might have abused their power in overseeing the CRES, before making an assertion about its mandate on grounds that the case was related to a criminal offence, he said as he questioned the DSI's legal reasoning in taking up the case. He said he was also suspicious of the timing of the indictment, which coincides with the House debate on amnesty, hinting at an ulterior motive to force the opposition to support blanket amnesty.
Suthep said many saw the prosecution's decision as a means to help the government push the amnesty bill through.
"If the government continues pushing for the bill's passage in second and third readings, I will intensify the fight by putting my life at stake," he said.
He added that he wanted to remind Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra that she might have to go into exile if she continued putting her family's interests before those of the country. He alleged that the amnesty bill, when turned into law, would favour fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
DSI director-general Tarit Pengdith, meanwhile, said his investigators had worked in a straightforward manner leading to the indictment of Abhisit and Suthep.
He said that although the prosecutors had decided to try the two in a single count of offence on grounds that the crowd-control operations had one objective - to disperse the protests - he still believes the two should be tried for each death caused.
He said the judicial process for cases related to the mayhem would continue as per usual until the amnesty bill goes into effect. He also said that Abhisit and Suthep would be tried for criminal offence and not abuse of power.
As for the mayhem-related deaths, the DSI has sent 52 cases back to local police to investigate further and provide complete reports.
Of these cases, 15 had already been ruled upon by judicial inquests on the cause of death. Following the inquests, local police submitted 13 reports on each death for the DSI to review before deciding to drop or to seek prosecution review on criminal accountability.