Public prosecutors will indict former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his former deputy Suthep Thaugsuban for murder.
Abhisit and Suthep: Democrats say pair are being pressured to accept blanket amnesty
Attorney-General Atthapol Yaisawang signed the indictment order against the pair on Friday on charges in connection with the Democrat government's crackdowns on red-shirt protesters in April-May 2010 that left at least 92 people dead.
The Democrats argue the move is an attempt to pressure the pair to accept the blanket amnesty proposal by the ruling Pheu Thai Party.
The decision to prosecute Mr Abhisit, the Democrat Party leader, and Mr Suthep, a Democrat MP for Surat Thani, is based on the recommendation of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI). The Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) says the move is also in line with several Criminal Court rulings which found some protesters were shot dead by soldiers acting on the orders of the now-defunct Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES).
Mr Suthep was deputy prime minister and the director of CRES during the protest crackdown, acting on behalf of Mr Abhisit who was prime minister at the time.
OAG spokesman Nanthasak Poonsuk said the pair will be indicted for issuing orders to CRES security authorities to reclaim the areas occupied by the red-shirt protesters in 2010 and allowing CRES security officers to use guns and live ammunition to retake the protest areas.
The use of the weapons was heavy-handed, which caused deaths and injuries, Mr Nanthasak said.
Deputy OAG spokesman Watcharin Panurat said the case, which involves deaths as a result of operations by state officials, comes under the jurisdiction of the OAG.
Mr Watcharin said the OAG's indictment decision is based on two factors.
First, the case involves extra-judicial killing offences, not an offence regarding the abuse of positions of state authority which would have been investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Commission. This gave the DSI the authority to investigate the case.
Secondly, evidence has emerged the pair ordered the crackdowns on the protesters and allowed security officers to use weapons, he said.
Many died and were wounded due to the use of weapons by security officers who acted on the orders, he added.
Since both men are MPs, they have immunity during the parliamentary session. The OAG will forward the case to the court after the parliamentary session closes, Mr Watcharin said.
He added that even if all the CRES orders were issued by Mr Suthep and not Mr Abhisit, Mr Abhisit has to be indicted as well because he ordered the setting-up of the CRES.
There were also witnesses who said Mr Abhisit gave instructions at several CRES meetings, Mr Watcharin said.
Mr Abhisit said yesterday he was confident of his innocence and was ready to fight the case. He insisted the DSI's investigation was flawed.
"My case is trivial when compared to what is going to happen as a result of the amnesty bill," he said.
Mr Suthep said yesterday he was not worried about the indictment and was ready to prove himself through the judicial process.
Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said the pair were not surprised at the move by prosecutors, adding the OAG must take full responsibility for the decision.
Mr Chavanond said it was not surprising the OAG decided to indict the pair because the government wants to pressure Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep to accept the blanket amnesty for everyone involved in the 2010 political violence.
Mr Chavanond said Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep will fight to prove their innocence and will not seek an amnesty to clear themselves.
The revised amnesty bill was endorsed yesterday by the House committee vetting it, with a vote of 20 in favour and seven against.
The vote came after the panel decided on Oct 18 to consider changes to the bill. The original draft bill proposed by Pheu Thai Party MP for Samut Prakan Worachai Hema suggested that an amnesty should only be granted to protesters.
His version excluded protest and military leaders from any amnesty including former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and those in government responsible for ordering the crackdowns.
The approved revised draft legislation will be forwarded to parliament for its second and third readings.
Meanwhile, OAG spokesman Mr Nanthasak said Mr Atthapol also set up a committee to consider a petition by the Student and People's Network for Thailand's Reform, and the Green Politics group, asking the OAG to review the decision of former attorney-general Chulasingh Vasantasingh not to indict former premier Thaksin Shinawatra in a terrorism case.