Asia

Former Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva charged with murder

  • 12 December 2013
  • From the section Asia
Democrat Party leader and former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (centre) arrives at Bangkok criminal court in Bangkok, 12 December 2013
Mr Abhisit is supporting efforts to unseat current PM Yingluck Shinawatra

Former Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has been formally charged with murder in connection with a crackdown on demonstrators in 2010.

More than 90 people died in clashes during the 2010 protests.

Mr Abhisit, who leads the opposition Democrat Party, denied the charges and was granted bail.

The indictment came as protests against current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra continued, and protesters briefly entered Government House.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who was Mr Abhisit's deputy in 2010, also faces charges but has asked the court to postpone his hearing.

Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep were in power when thousands of supporters of ousted former leader Thaksin Shinawatra occupied parts of Bangkok. They authorised the army to clear the protesters.

The charges relate to the shooting deaths of a 43-year-old taxi driver and a 14-year-old during the crackdown.

Thai anti-government protesters remove barbed wire erected by Thai police on the fence of Prime Minister's office known as Government House in Bangkok, Thailand 12 December 2013
Protesters briefly stormed Government House on Thursday

Meanwhile, on Thursday, protesters briefly broke into Government House, and later cut off the office's power supply, reports said.

Anti-government protesters want Ms Yingluck to resign and for her government to be replaced with an unelected "People's Council".

They say that Mr Thaksin, who is also Ms Yingluck's brother, controls the ruling Pheu Thai party.

Mr Abhisit and other Democrat Party lawmakers resigned from parliament on Sunday so that they could join the protesters.

On Monday, Ms Yingluck dissolved parliament and announced general elections for 2 February, as 150,000 protesters surrounded Government House.

However, she has refused to resign before the elections.

Ms Yingluck's Pheu Thai party has a majority in parliament, and draws significant support from Thailand's rural areas. The party is seen as well-placed to win February's election.

However, protesters accuse it of using public funds irresponsibly to secure votes, including on a controversial rice subsidy scheme which hurt Thailand's exports.

Mr Thaksin, a polarising politician, is in self-imposed exile after he was overthrown in a military coup in 2006 and convicted of corruption.

More on this story