Time Magazine reported that murder charges against former Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his erstwhile deputy Suthep Thaugsuban were dropped Thursday. The charges related to a bloody crackdown on peaceful protesters in central Bangkok in 2010 that claimed more than 90 lives. Thailand’s Criminal Court ruled that it could not hear the case as the two accused held public office at the time of the deaths and were acting under emergency powers, reports the Bangkok Post.
Time said that only the Supreme Court could hear the case, the bench added, and the nation’s anticorruption body must decide whether it should be referred upward. However, any decision could take years. The protesters who Suthep and the Oxford-educated Abhisit stood accused of killing were ardent Red Shirt backers of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was removed in a military putsch in 2006.
For the past few weeks, Abhisit Dems have been causing lots of problem for Prayuth’s junta, like many verbal criticism & visiting farmers. So today Thailand’s justice system “Threw Out” murder cases on Abhisit & his security guy, Suthep, to the court for political offense. This a reversal, as court have ruled already on about 10 – 15 killed Red Shirts protesters cases, as killed by bullets from military side. So case is now stopped, & for court for politician, & first stop at Thailand’s anti-corruption body, a body known in Abhisit pocket.
Those original rulings came when Yingluck in power & many taken by surprise, that court, would make findings against Abhisit & military. With surprise findings, many say International Criminal Court (ICC) investing whole case of about 100 Red Shirts killed, not necessary. Signs of problems emerged, Prayuth then, just army chief interfered into the investigations & in 2012, Human Rights Watch (HRW) alarmed
In 2012, with then just army chief Prayuth meddling in the case, to stop the investigations, HRW, made a statement, calling Prayuth stop.
On AUGUST 23, 2012; Brad Adams, Asia director, wrote:
“The Thai government should order the army commander-in-chief to cease interfering in the criminal investigations of the 2010 political violence. The army chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, should also stop trying to intimidate critics by filing criminal defamation cases. On August 16, 2012, Prayuth told the Justice Ministry’s Department of Special Investigation to stop accusing soldiers of killing demonstrators during the government’s crackdown on the “Red Shirt” protest in 2010 and not to report publicly on the progress of its investigations. Prayuth has denied any army abuses during the violence in which at least 98 people died and more than 2,000 were injured, despite numerous accounts by witnesses and other evidence. Prayuth is also using Thailand’s archaic criminal defamation law to deter public criticism, Human Rights Watch said. On August 17, Prayuth ordered an army legal officer to file a criminal defamation complaint against Robert Amsterdam, a lawyer representing the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and Amsterdam’s translator. At a UDD rally on May 19, Amsterdam gave a speech in which he alleged that the army committed brutality against demonstrators for which it should be held accountable.”
As Prayuth meddling increased, & court wavered, Red Shirts, greatly concerned, called on Yingluck, accept jurisdiction of the ICC. Yingluck was inches away from accepting ICC to investigate the about 100 dead Red Shirts as “Crime Against Humanity” but backed down.
The back-down relates, to Royalist objection, saying if Thailand accept, ICC jurisdiction, the Thai (xxxx), would come under ICC also. The Thai (xxxx) considered, top commander of the Thai #military & so Royalist scared of ICC jurusdiction over #Thailand hit (xxxx).
As Yingluck’s government falter with all Suthep protest, court’s judgment on those killed by Abhisit, Suthep & Thai military, slowed. & with Prayuth coup, & so Prayuth now prime minister, “Result Is” court, in reverse, threw out all cases, to court for political offense. What is also sad, apart from Prayuth’s military getting off for slaughtering, as many pointed out, there 100s of cases of “Clearly;” 100s of cases of “Clearly” political prisoner cases, that the court say, is “Nothing Political” & have passed judgment on them.
There little hiding fact, reason court threw out all cases in reverse, because “There Are” other cases at the court on killed Red Shirts. These cases of military slaughtering Red Shirts, in the pipe-line, before reversal, could “Greatly Embarrass” Prayuth.
& no escape fact, military under Abhisit & Suthep, order crack-down, killed about 100 protesters, & cases would continue to hurt Prayuth. so like magic, in one swoop of the “Thai Way” all the trouble, a bitching Abhisit & nagging to Prayuth court cases, swept away.
As for Abhisit & Suthep, some say we all will have to see, if the anti-corruption unit, can save them from justice. As for military slaughtering about 100 Red Shirts protesters, most say, as always, like past slaughtering, likely get of clean.
The following is from Eurasian Review (source)
THAILAND: COURT RULING FURTHERS IMPUNITY, SAYS HRW
AUGUST 29, 2014 EURASIA REVIEW LEAVE A COMMENT
By Eurasia Review
A Bangkok criminal court’s dismissal of charges against former Thai leaders for their role in the violent crackdown on protesters in May 2010 is a serious setback for accountability efforts in Thailand, Human Rights Watch said today.
On August 28, 2014, the criminal court ruled that it had no jurisdiction to try former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban because they were political officeholders at the time. International human rights treaties to which Thailand is a party make clear that official status cannot justify immunity from legal responsibility for serious human rights violations. However, the court found that Abhisit’s and Suthep’s decisions to authorize security forces to use live ammunition had led to the high number of casualties and that dispersal operations did not follow international standards on the use of lethal force. Prosecutors can appeal the criminal court’s ruling denying jurisdiction.
“Letting Thailand’s leaders during the 2010 violence off the hook merely because of their positions is an affront to basic justice and international law,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “No government or military leader should be allowed to escape accountability for killings and other serious abuses simply because of their position or rank. The ruling on excessive force by the security forces, which could open the door to criminal prosecutions of those involved in the bloody crackdown, was more promising.”
The Justice Ministry’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) had charged Abhisit and Suthep with murder and attempted murder for ordering the military crackdown on protesters in 2010. The DSI filed the charges after inquests found that protesters were killed and wounded by gunshots fired by soldiers acting on the orders of the Center of the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES), which Abhisit set up under Suthep’s command. The military crackdown on the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), known as the “Red Shirts,” took place between April 7 and May 19, 2010, and resulted in at least 98 deaths and more than 2,000 injuries.
The criminal court also ruled that the case against Abhisit and Suthep fell under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions. Since a petition had been filed against Abhisit and Suthep with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), which is responsible for handling criminal cases against politicians, it is duty-bound if it has sufficient evidence to forward the case to the criminal division for further consideration.
By referring the case to the NACC, the criminal court essentially transformed an important criminal investigation into an inquiry regarding abuse of official positions. The ruling undermines Thailand’s obligations under international law to ensure the right to an effective remedy for victims of serious human rights violations, including unlawful killings. A victim’s right to an effective remedy requires that the government take the necessary investigative, judicial, and reparatory steps to redress the violation and address the victim’s rights to knowledge, justice, and reparations. The government is under a continuing obligation to provide an effective remedy; there is no time limit on legal action and the right cannot be compromised even because of a state of emergency.
After four years, successive Thai governments have failed to impartially investigate and prosecute all those responsible for the 2010 political violence. Human Rights Watch concluded in a May 2011 report, “Descent into Chaos: Thailand’s 2010 Red Shirt Protests and the Government Crackdown,” that excessive and unnecessary force by the army caused many deaths and injuries during the 2010 confrontations. The high number of casualties – including unarmed demonstrators, volunteer medics, reporters, photographers, and bystanders – resulted in part from the enforcement of “live fire zones” around the UDD protest sites in Bangkok. The CRES approved the use of live ammunition, sharpshooters, and snipers to contain and disperse the protests, but failed to take steps to ensure the army acted according to law enforcement standards.
Human Rights Watch has also consistently pressed for investigations into alleged crimes by the UDD-linked “Black Shirt” militants. Despite clear photographic and other evidence, the UDD leadership and its supporters, including those holding positions in the Pheu Thai Party, deny that the UDD had armed elements at the time of the 2010 events.
The Abhisit government summarily and excessively charged hundreds of UDD protesters with serious criminal offenses, but it did not file charges against any government officials or soldiers. Shortly after taking office in 2011, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra publicly promised to investigate and prosecute the security forces for the 2010 violence.
However, her government apparently gave in to pressure from the army to not prosecute military personnel. In November 2013, the then-ruling Pheu Thai Party and its partners in the government coalition pushed a broad amnesty bill through the lower house of parliament, triggering mass anti-government protests, led by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which sought the resignation of the Yingluck government. Months of sporadic violence in Bangkok resulting from anti-government protesters clashing with pro-government groups and the police finally ended when the military intervened and staged a coup on May 22, 2014.
The prospects for justice for abuses committed during the 2010 violence appear bleak under the military junta, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). The junta leader, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, who was appointed prime minister on August 22, 2014, has repeatedly said in public that soldiers should not be condemned for the 2010 killings. Investigations by the police, the DSI, and the NACC all indicated that military officers would not be held responsible for unlawful deaths and injuries during the 2010 crackdown because they were acting under orders from the Abhisit government.
“The Department of Special Investigation and the National Anti-Corruption Commission should not allow the criminal court’s ruling to deter them from pursuing all avenues to bring those responsible for the 2010 killings to justice,” Adams said. “An important lesson from 2010 is that failure to end impunity will fuel future lawlessness and violence in Thailand. This is particularly important now, when Thailand is living under a military junta that controls all state powers.”