BANGKOK — Thailand's national anti-corruption agency says it will prosecute former Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and his deputies for authorizing a crackdown on Yellowshirt protesters in October 2008.
On 7 October 2008 the Redshirt-backed government ordered police to clear Yellowshirt protesters who were blocking the entrance to Parliament and calling on Somchai to resign. Two people were killed in suspicious circumstances during the operation.
Yellowshirt protesters clash with police in Bangkok on 7 Oct 2008.
Vicha Mahakhun, a spokesperson of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), said yesterday that the agency will prosecute Somchai and his deputies in the Supreme Court's Division for Holders of Political Office for alleged "abuse of power."
The NACC will take up the role as prosecutor because the Office of Attorney-General declined to take the case, Vicha said.
"The NACC has thoroughly investigated the case," Vicha said. "We are aided by a report compiled by the National Human Rights Commission, and the report concluded by the Parliament. We have a lot of [evidence]."
He added, "All this information makes the NACC very confident."
According to Vicha, the lawsuit will name Somchai, former Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, and "some more Cabinet members" at the time as defendants.
"At this moment, we are still waiting to hear whether the court will agree to hear the case," Vicha told reporters. "As far as I know, the court has already scheduled the hearing, but I can't remember the date. If the court says so, we will start the process of preparing files for the court."
The October 2008 crackdown came after Yellowshirt demonstrators, led by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), seized the Government House and occupied parts of Bangkok to pressure Somchai into stepping down. The protesters accused Somchai of acting as a "puppet" for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the de facto leader of the Redshirts who was deposed in a military coup in 2006.
The crackdown involved police officers firing tear gas at the protesters and beating them with batons. Two demonstrators were killed in an "explosion" later in the day. Police insist that they did not cause the explosion, and Redshirt activists say the victims were carrying explosives at the time of their deaths.
Her Majesty the Queen later attended the funeral of one of the two victims on 13 October 2008 and reportedly praised her sacrifice "for the country and the monarchy."
The NACC is frequently accused of backing the Yellowshirt faction and ruling against politicians allied to the rival Redshirt movement. The agency has been criticized for its slow progress in prosecuting the Democrat Party politicians who authorized a crackdown on Redshirt protesters in 2010 that left over 90 people dead.
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