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Abhisit murder charge dismissed

August 28, 2014

A Thai court has dropped charges of murder against ex-premier Abhisit Vejjajiva and his former deputy. They had been indicted for their role in a bloody crackdown on opposition protests in 2010.

- Former Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (C) arrives at the court in Bangkok on December 12, 2013. . AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images
Image: AFP/Getty Images

A Thai criminal court on Thursday dismissed charges of murder and abuse of power against former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (picture above) and his former deputy, Suthep Thaugsuban.

The two had been indicted for their role in ordering a deadly crackdown on anti-government protesters in 2010, in which scores of people died. The so-called "Red Shirt" demonstrators had been demanding snap elections, saying that Abhisit's government had taken power undemocratically in 2008 through a parliamentary vote.

Both men had denied the charges.

'No authority'

The court in the capital, Bangkok, said that it had no authority to handle the case because the two accused had been holders of public office at the time and acting under an emergency decree. It said only the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions would have jurisdiction in the case if the two were to be found responsible by the country's anti-graft commission.

So far, the National Anti-Corruption Commission has questioned Abhisit and Suthep, but has not pressed any charges against them.

Relatives of those killed said they plan to appeal the court's ruling.

Official inquests have concluded that several of those killed in the 2010 crackdown had been hit by bullets fired by Thai soldiers when the army and police moved in to disperse demonstrators who occupied downtown Bangkok for nine weeks.

The surprise ruling comes three months after the military seized power from Abhisit's political rivals in a bloodless coup.

Suthep went on to lead his own protests against the government of ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, which culminated in the coup on May 22.

tj/nm (AFP, AP)