Abhisit, Suthep face murder charges

Former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his former deputy Suthep Thaugsuban will be charged with premeditated murder over the death of a taxi driver during the 2010 Bangkok violence.

Tarit Pengdit (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)

Phan Khamkong was shot dead during the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) protests and violence in April and May of 2010.

Tarit Pengdit, director-general of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), said on Thursday that the decision to charge Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep was made jointly by a tripartite team of investigators from the DSI, police and prosecution at a meeting earlier in the day.

Mr Tarit said, after the meeting, said he, as chief investigator, signed a letter to asking Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep to report to the DSI on Wednesday, Dec 12, at 2pm to acknowledge the charges.

The letter said the two would be formally notified and questioned and would be released without conditions  afterwards.

This practice was in line with the Criminal Procedures Code and the Special Cases Investigation Act, because the two men were former holders of high-level political positions.

Mr Tarit said they were required to report to the DSI at this time because after Dec 20 they would be protected by parliamentary immunity.

He believed they would not delay reporting to the DSI beyond Dec 21, when parliament is due to reconvene in  ordinary session.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, left, and Suthep Thaugsuban (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Mr Tarit said the charges against Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep would be the first legal charges over the more than 90 deaths that occurred during the 2010 mass rallies.

The Criminal Court recently ruled that Phan, the taxi driver, was hit and killed by bullets sfired by soldiers performing their duty on the orders of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES). Mr Suthep was the ultimate commander of the  CRES, with then-prime minister Abhisit his superior.

Information from witnesses and the examination of evidence was solid enough for the investigators to decide to lay charges against the two men.

The use of weapons by soldiers followed written orders from the CRES, of which Mr Suthep was director and acting under the orders of Mr Abhisit, who stayed at the CRES headquarters all the time during the military crackdown on the protesters.

Mr Tarit said this was an important case because the death was caused by state authorities, necessitating investigation under Article 150 of the Criminal Procedures Code.

The court clearly identified the dead man and the circumstances that led to his death.

However, the court did not specify who among the soldiers fired the fatal shots.  Moreover, Article 70 of the Criminal Code states that those who act on the order of their commanders are protected and immune from punishment.

Therefore, no charges would be brought against the soldiers, the DSI chief said.

About the author

columnist
Writer: Online Reporters
Position: Online Reporters