TWO EX-THAI PMS

Court says none of the de­fen­dants bore di­rect re­spon­si­bil­ity

New Straits Times - - World -

BANGKOK

THAI­LAND’S high­est court yes­ter­day ac­quit­ted two for­mer prime min­is­ters and two for­mer top po­lice of­fi­cers over their role in a 2008 crackdown on antigov­ern­ment protesters that killed two peo­ple.

For­mer pre­mier Som­chai Wong­sawat and his then-deputy Chavalit Yongchaiyudh faced neg­li­gence charges over a po­lice oper­a­tion to re­move protesters who had laid seige to Par­lia­ment.

The deadly in­ci­dent was one of many vi­o­lent flare-ups over the past decade between their po­lit­i­cal camp, a pop­ulist move­ment led by for­mer pre­mier Thaksin Shi­naw­tra, and a con­ser­va­tive Bangkok-based es­tab­lish­ment.

Po­lice fought pitched bat­tles with demon­stra­tors, some of whom pos­sessed home-made bombs, and fired mul­ti­ple rounds of tear gas. Two died and hun­dreds were wounded.

Af­ter the mil­i­tary seized power in 2014, au­thor­i­ties put the four men on trial.

But in its rul­ing yes­ter­day, nine judges dis­missed the case, ar­gu­ing that au­thor­i­ties had a re­spon­si­bil­ity to clear the protesters be­cause they had not re­mained peace­ful and that none of the de­fen­dants bore di­rect re­spon­si­bil­ity for the deaths.

“The protesters sur­rounded Par­lia­ment and threat­ened to storm the build­ing, there­fore it

Som­chai Wong­sawat

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