Tarit mulls 700 charges of attempted murder
The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) is expected to bring hundreds of additional charges against former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his ex-deputy Suthep Thaugsuban in cases linked to the political violence in 2010.
DSI chief Tarit Pengdith said the charges could include the attempted murder of 700 people, and physical assault against 800 others during the riots.
Mr Tarit said he had called a meeting with police today to examine evidence in cases where people had been shot and seriously injured. He will later meet public prosecutors about the same issue.
About 1,500 people were injured in the political violence in 2010 when Mr Abhisit was the prime minister, as his government attempted to fight off a challenge to its authority by red-shirt demonstrators.
The DSI has sent 35 cases of people’s deaths during the riots through the Metropolitan Police Bureau to the courts.
It is now handling the cases of about 1,500 injured people.
Of these, about 700 were seriously wounded and charges of attempted murder will be brought in connection with their cases.
For the other 800 injured people, the DSI will bring charges of physical assault.
These charges will be brought against Mr Abhisit as the then prime minister and Mr Suthep as his then deputy prime minister and director of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) that issued directives to deal with the riots, Mr Tarit said.
“If interrogators agree to charge Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep with attempted murder, we could pursue two options,” he said.
“Firstly, they will wait for the current parliamentary session to expire on April 19, 2013.
“Second, a letter will be sent to the House Speaker asking him to send Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep to the DSI to be prosecuted,” Mr Tarit said.
The death and injury cases occurred during the red-shirt protests at Kok Wua intersection and Din So Road on April 10 and at Wat Pathum Wanaram, in Bon Kai on Rama IV Road, as well as in the Din Daeng, Ratchaprarop and Phaya Thai areas from May 13-19, 2010.
Mr Abhisit said yesterday he had learned from the DSI during a recent meeting that it would bring lawsuits for individual cases, which meant many charges would be laid.
The charges will be pressed against him and Mr Suthep as individuals, not as the former prime minister and the former deputy prime minister, even though he and Mr Suthep had ordered actions against protesters in their capacity as the prime minister and deputy prime minister respectively, he said.
“I asked how I, as an individual, had authority to form the CRES. They said they would do it that way anyway.
“This is not beyond expectation because they want the cases to go to the public prosecution and all three levels of the courts,” Mr Abhisit said.
Mr Suthep said attempts had been made to pressure him and Mr Abhisit to accept an amnesty law as proposed by the government.
He said the orders they gave in 2010 were meant to protect the lives of officials and innocent people.
Mr Suthep said the actions ordered against demonstrators started with soft measures and escalated to harsh ones.
Armed terrorists were among the demonstrators, he claimed.
Before the orders were issued, the attorney-general examined the United Nations charter to see if weapons could be used as part of the state’s response.
Mr Tarit who was also a member of the CRES, actively expressed opinions and volunteered to hold many press conferences at that time, he said.
Mr Suthep said he had recorded what Mr Tarit raised at the meetings, adding the executive decree on public administration in emergency situations protected officials who had given such orders and absolved them from criminal, civil and disciplinary action.
However, Mr Suthep admitted that the huge number of legal cases which the DSI planned to bring would annoy him because fighting them would be time-consuming.