Abhisit, Suthep opt to stand trial in court
Democrat Party leader and former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Friday that he will report to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) on Dec 13 to acknowledge the charge a charge of murder relating to the 2010 protests and was ready to prove his innocence in court.
- Published: 7/12/2012 at 03:47 PM
- Newspaper section: news
He said this after accepting the department’s letter calling him in to acknowledge charges of authorising the killing of anti-government protesters by soldiers during the April-May 2010 violence in Bangkok.
Tarit Pengdit (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)
DSI chief Tarit Pengdit announced the joint decision of a tripartite team of investigators from the DSI, police and prosecutors at a meeting Thursday to bring the charges against Mr Abhisit and Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban, who was then deputy premier in charge of security affairs.
Mr Tarit said the meeting decided to lay charges against Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep under Sections 59, 83, 84 and 288 of the Criminal Code, based on a Criminal Court ruling on the death of a taxi driver during the 2010 political unrest.
The court ruled on Sept 17 that the taxi driver, 44-year-old Phan Khamkong from Yasothon province, was shot dead by security forces near the Ratchaprarop Airport Link station on the night of May 14, 2010.
Mr Abhisit insisted that he was performing his duty as prime minister in maintaining peace and order during the anti-government protests in 2010 and had acted within the law.
Moreover, the court had ruled that the anti-government rallies by the red-shirts were in violation of the constitution, he added.
After the operations to get back occupied areas from protesters, his government had opened itself to all forms of monitoring, an independent inquiry was set up to find out the facts, Mr Abhisit said. He was ready to enter the justice system to prove his innocence, he said.
Mr Abhisit, the leader of the opposition parties in the parliament, said the pressing of charges against him and Mr Suthep was a political action intended to force him and his party to support the government's proposed reconciliation law to whitewash a corrupt person.
He insisted that there would be no negotiations for his own benefit, even though under the charges he could be sentenced to death. He had confidence in the country’s justice system, adding that no one is above the law.
Mr Suthep, former deputy prime minister for security affairs, said he would also go to meet DSI investigators to acknowledge the charges, as requested.
Democrat list MP and former finance minister Korn Chatikavanij said on his Facebook page that the charges being pressed against Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep had a hidden political agenda, aiming to force the Democrats to support a plan to issue an amnesty law.
Mr Korn said the order issued by Mr Abhisit, then prime minister, and Mr Suthep in his capacity as director of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) was constitutional, aimed at bringing peace and order to the country.
He accused fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra of trying to use state power to pressure Mr Abhisit, Mr Suthep and the Democrat Party to back a plan to issue an amnesty law for himself and his political alliances.
Thaksin had previously tried to negotiate with both Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep on the issue, but failed, Mr Korn added.
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung insisted on Friday that the government was not persecuting Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep, as alleged by the Democrats.
Suthep Thaugsuban, left, and Abhisit Vejjajiva (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
The legal action against Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep was in line with actual facts and the rule of law, he said.
The DSI was not the only investigator into the deaths of red-shirt protesters in the 2010 political violence. Police and prosecutors were also involved and no one could force them to a decision, he said.
Whatever the former premier and his ex-deputy would say in explanation to the DSI had nothing to do with the government, said Mr Chalerm.
The government was just trying to make known to general public the facts behind the bloodshed, without any hidden agenda. Offenders must be punished, he said.
Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit on Friday slammed Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep for linking their cases to the move for an amnesty law, saying they are different matters.
He said a large number of relatives of the red-shirts killed and injured in the bloodshed was legal action taken against those who ordered the use of force to disperse the protesters.
Mr Prompong said Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep should prove their innocence through the judicial system, instead of accusing the government of trying to force them to support the amnesty plan.
DSI director general Tarit said there was no reason to investigate his own actions as a member of the CRES during the 2010 crackdown on red-shirt protesters, because he was just following orders - not issuing them.
Mr Tarit confirmed on Friday that Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep had now been formally summonsed to acknowledge the charges on Dec 12. Both men face a charge of premeditated murder over the death of Phan Khamkong, a taxi driver shot during the deadly crackdown in 2010.
The DSI chief said the date had, however, been postponed to Dec 13 because Mr Abhisit would be travelling abroad. He said he was not involved in the decision to indict the two men.
"I was merely supervising the investigation team and played no part in the investigation itself," Mr Tarit said.
Asked about calls that he should also be indicted because he was also a member of the CRES, Mr Tarit responded that he was assigned only to attend the CRES meetings and monitor the situation. All of the orders to use force ultimately came down from Mr Abhisit, as prime minister, or Mr Suthep as director of the emergency centre.
He said not all people who were part of the CRES would be charged because most were just following orders given by their superiors.
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