Thailand court dismisses murder case against ex-PM

[JURIST] The Criminal Court in Bangkok on Thursday dismissed the murder case against former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and the former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban for lack of jurisdiction. Abhisit and Suthep are charged [JURIST report] with premeditated and attempted murder for ordering the Thai military to use live ammunition to clear Bangkok of anti-government protesters [JURIST news archive] four years ago. The 2010 operation killed at least 98 people and injured thousands. Although the Criminal Court of Thailand in a previous decision ruled that some of the protesters were killed by bullets coming from the direction of the Thai troops, the court on Thursday ruled [NYT report] that it did not have the authority to rule on the case. Rather, the judges ruled that it was the jurisdiction of the Thai Supreme Court, which deals with political officeholders. As a result of the decision, which is believed will likely rekindle political animosity in Thailand, the case will be transferred to the National Anticorruption Commission, an institution with no experience with murder trials and has made little progress in investigating the case. One of the lawyers for the families of the deceased protesters, Chokchai Angkaew, has said he would appeal the ruling.

Thailand's political system has been unstable since the 2006 military coup [AHRC backgrounder, PDF] by the Royal Thai Army against then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Recent protests has only exacerbated the instability. At the end of November 2013, Yingluck Shinawatra announced [JURIST report] that there will be no early election in response to recent mass protests by citizens who want her removed from office. Also in November protesters in Thailand demanded [JURIST report] assistance in overthrowing the government after Shinawatra survived a no-confidence vote by parliament. In response to the protests, Shinawatra invoked a special security law [JURIST report] in districts of Bangkok and nearby areas after protesters stormed and occupied several key ministries. At the beginning of November, Thailand's high court refused to allow [JURIST report] the ruling party to amend constitution.

 

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