Suthep implicates Tarit in red-shirt crackdown

Suthep implicates Tarit in red-shirt crackdown

Abhisit to testify in case of taxi driver's killing

Department of Special Investigation (DSI) chief Tarit Pengdith may be summoned for questioning over the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration's handling of the 2010 red-shirt protests.

Mr Tarit was implicated by former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban during the latter's 12-hour marathon questioning by the DSI, said DSI deputy chief Prawet Moolpramuk.

Based on Mr Suthep's statement, Mr Tarit, who served as a member of the now-defunct Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES), had suggested the invocation of a state of emergency if violence erupted, the investigator said.

He noted that some other officials, including former National Security Council chief Thawil Pliensri, may also be summoned for questioning.

Pol Col Prawet said the statements by Mr Suthep and former prime minister Abhisit were complete and neither was likely to be questioned further.

Mr Suthep was questioned for about 12 hours, while Mr Abhisit was grilled for seven hours. According to the DSI investigator, two snipers deployed during the April-May 2010 demonstrations will today give statements to the DSI about their assignments.

Mr Suthep said yesterday he refused to acknowledge a video clip which the DSI claimed showed soldiers shooting at red-shirt protesters on April 10, 2010.

"They claimed they got it from YouTube. The clip showed troops with M16 and Tavor rifles. There was no picture of any victim in the clip," he said.

"I never saw it before, so I refused to sign to accept it [as evidence of soldiers shooting red shirts]," Mr Suthep said.

He said the DSI asked him about the role of Mr Abhisit in the handling of the protests and the military operations.

"I told them Mr Abhisit was briefed by authorities and tried to resolve the situation by negotiating with red shirts, addressing the public and talking with human rights groups," Mr Suthep said.

"Every order issued by the CRES was authorised by me."

He said he had handed over to the DSI all the orders he had signed while handling the protests.

Mr Suthep insisted the military operations were not crackdowns, but parts of an attempt to reclaim some of the public space from the protesters. He said the DSI also asked him about the so-called "men in black" who were filmed shooting protesters in video clips.

The DSI claimed it did not have information about this group of people, he said. The former deputy prime minister said he still has faith in the DSI and the system, but said his confidence in individuals is another matter.

The Criminal Court will hold a final hearing in the inquest into the death of 44-year-old taxi driver Phan Khamkong tomorrow.

It is the first of the protest deaths _ allegedly at the hands of state officials _ to be reviewed by the court.

The taxi driver was shot dead on the night of May 15 as he was attempting to take refuge in a building in the Ratchaprarop area.

Mr Suthep and Mr Abhisit are expected to give evidence at the court hearing. The judges are expected to rule on the case on Sept 17.

In a related development, Phayao Akkahad, the mother of a volunteer nurse shot dead during the red-shirt rallies, yesterday submitted a letter to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra asking her to speed up the probe into her daughter's death.

Kamonkade Akkahad, 25, was among six victims found dead in Wat Pathum Wanaram on May 19, 2010. The petition was accepted by the prime minister's representative.

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