BANGKOK — Those seeking justice for more than 90 people killed during political unrest in 2010 said Monday they would seek new lawyers to revive murder charges against a former prime minister and his deputy four days after the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
Phayaw Akkahad, the mother of a woman killed during the 2010 crackdown on Redshirt protests said Monday that she and others would seek new lawyers to fight for justice. The move came after the Supreme Court turned down the murder case against former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva his then deputy, Suthep Thaugsuban.
The court ruled last Thursday that the case had gone forward through the wrong channel. The court left intact lower court rulings to dismiss the case that the two men ordered the military to open fire on protesters to reclaim the streets. More than 90 people were killed on both sides.
The ruling was welcomed by supporters of Abhisit, who thanked the court for giving him justice.
Phayaw, whose daughter was a volunteer medic killed on May 19, 2010, inside Pathum Wanaram Temple by multiple bullet wounds, named civil rights lawyer Arnon Nampa to lead future litigation to seek justice for those killed after seven years. Arnon is also a founding member of Resistant Citizens, a group opposed to military rule.
Phayaw said some relatives, herself included, would meet to Arnon and his colleagues to discuss the details soon. She said she was disappointed that seven years had passed with no progress made.
“After seven years, some relatives have become alarmed … We have to rely on ourselves, and whether we win or lose, it will be by ourselves,” Phayaw said, adding that current Redshirt lawyers, led by Chokechai Angkaew, didn’t even contact her after the case was dismissed on Thursday.
Originally the case against Abhisit and Suthep was submitted by a team of Redshirt lawyers to the Criminal Court in 2014. The case was investigated by the Department of Special Investigation, which would file the charges. The Criminal Court dismissed the case in 2014 in a decision upheld last year by the Appeals Court.
Chokechai said on Sunday that he was doubtful the Supreme Court could be petitioned on the matter under the new constitution.
Constitution expert and Thammasat law lecturer Sawatree Sukri said a new petition can still be lodged at the National Anti-Corruption Commission if relatives of those killed and their lawyers can come up with additional evidence.
Another suggestion, made by Puangthong Pawakapan, a Chulalongkorn University political scientist and editor of a 1,389-page book chronicling the killings entitled “Truth for Justice: The April-May 2010 crackdown,” wants to see relatives file charges of premeditated murder against senior military officers at the time who were involved in the crackdown – including Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha – now junta leader and prime minister.
“This should be done so the matter will not disappear. In 5 or 10 years, there may be hope [in the court case] when the military are no longer in power,” said Puangthong on Monday. “Under the military rule, there’s no hope… It’s better than allowing things to go quiet, however.”
Sawatree agrees. Although the statute limitation for the case is 20 years, there are 13 years left and Sawatree added that there should be enough time time for relatives and the lawyers to try to get to court to accept the case against Prayuth and others.
She said charges of manslaughter against Prayuth, who was then commanding the operation on the ground against protesters, could be filed to the Department of Special Investigation, local police as well as the Criminal Court simultaneously.
“They should just get the matter to the courts within 13 years,” said the law expert.