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Former Thai prime minister faces murder charge over 2010 crackdown

Thai authorities have charged former Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his former deputy with murder.

Story highlights

  • Abhisit Vejjajiva and his former deputy are charged over the death of a taxi driver
  • The driver was killed amid a crackdown on protests in Bangkok in 2010
  • A court ruled last month that his death resulted from military acts ordered by Abhisit
  • More than 90 people were killed in the 2010 clashes in Bangkok

The consequences of ordering the military to crack down on anti-government demonstrations more than two years ago has come back to haunt the former Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Thai authorities have charged Abhisit and his former deputy with murder in relation to the killing of Pan Kumkong, a taxi driver, amid the unrest that brought chaos to the streets of the capital city, Bangkok, in 2010.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) said Thursday that the charges against Abhisit and Suthep Thaungsuban concern orders to soldiers to use live ammunition in the area were Pan was shot. If convicted, they would face the punishment of death or life in prison.

The Court of Justice ruled in September that the taxi driver's death resulted from acts carried out by the military under instructions from the Center for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation, a temporary task force set up by Abhisit.

He and Suthep have been summoned to hear the charges on Wednesday, said Thairt Pengdit, director general of the DSI.

Political tensions erupted in early 2010 with protesters demanding that Abhisit step down.

He resisted the calls, and clashes between his supporters and those of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup, turned violent.

Abhisit sent in government troops to quell the long-running protests in Bangkok. More than 90 people died and hundreds were injured in the street battles that followed, one of the bloodiest episodes in recent Thai history.

In July 2011, Thaksin's sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was elected as prime minister, defeating Abhisit.

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