Thai Supreme Court acquits ex-PM over 2008 deaths

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Bangkok, Aug 2 (IANS) Thailand’s Supreme Court on Wednesday acquitted former Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat on charges relating to a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters in 2008 in which two people died and hundreds were injured.

The judges found the former Prime Minister and three other defendants — former deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, then national police chief Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwon and then metropolitan police commander Suchart Mueankaewnot — not guilty of abuse of power charges, Efe news reported.

The four were tried over the October 7, 2008 police operation in which authorities evicted anti-government protesters attempting to occupy Parliament with legislators inside the building. The protesters had occupied the Government House earlier that day.

The judges ruled that the government had taken all necessary precautions, made repeated warnings before police moved to disperse the protesters and that the defendants had no intention of causing harm.

The protesters were part of the anti-government “Yellow Shirt” movement, which in 2006 held protests that led to the coup that deposed former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Wongsawat, Thaksin’s brother-in-law, had taken office a month earlier, replacing Samak Sundaravej, who was disqualified by the courts over receiving payment for taking part in a television cooking show.

The deadly crackdown in October spurred on the anti-government protesters and in November they occupied the city’s two airports for several days.

The protests ended after the Wongsawat government was dismissed by the courts and a new government led by the opposition Democrat Party was formed.

–IANS

soni/mr

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