Thaksin escapes 'terrorism' charge

THAILAND - Public prosecuters have dropped terrorism charges against fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in connection with the unrest and riots of 2010, due to "weak evidence", attorney-general Athapol Yaisawang said.

He said it was a decision taken by his predecessor Chulasingh Vasantasingh, who cited weak evidence as reason not to prosecute Thaksin.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) submitted its reports on the terrorism charges to the Office of the Attorney-General. In addition to Thaksin, charges were also filed against 23 red-shirt protesters, allegedly connected with the 2010 political violence.

Athapol said yesterday that prosecutors had reviewed the charges against Thaksin as a separate case, because the accused was a fugitive.

Chulasingh had the final word on whether to try Thaksin because the alleged offence happened outside the country.

Office of the Attorney-General spokesman Nanthasak Pulsuk said Thaksin had only phoned in from abroad and there was no clear evidence that he had instigated people to take part in terrorism.

"Thaksin's address [to the red shirts] did not call on the protesters to violate the law by burning city halls, embassies, consulate offices, or by toppling the Constitution. The violence at the Ratchaprasong intersection was because the government used military force to reclaim the protest area - with armoured vehicles and war weapons - to disperse the red-shirt protest, leading to many injuries and deaths," he said.

DSI chief Tarit Pengdith said yesterday that the attorney-general's decision was deemed final and the DSI would not reopen the case.