7 Dec 2012

Former Thai PM charged with murder

5:37 am on 7 December 2012

Former Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajivahas been charged with murder over the death of a taxi driver during mass rallies against his government in 2010.

More than 80 people were killed in the clashes.

Former Deputy PM Suthep Thaugsuban also faces charges under Section 288 of the criminal code, which carries the death penalty or a lengthy term in prison.

The two men will be summoned to hear the charges and face questioning on 12 December.

The decision to charge them was announced after a court ruled that taxi driver Phan Kamkong was killed by Thai soldiers during the 2010 violence.

"Red-shirt" protesters, many of whom supported ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra, occupied Bangkok's financial district in March 2010. Police tried to clear them from the area in April - after which they moved to the city's commercial heart.

They remained there until 19 May when armed troops smashed through barricades and entered their camp.

Elections in July 2011 were then won by the party led by Yingluck Shinawatra, the sister of the ousted prime minister.

The BBC reports Mr Abhisit and his deputy are the first officials - government or military - to face charges over the deaths. Several red-shirt leaders are to be prosecuted on terrorism charges.