Thai court drops murder case against ex-PM

BANGKOK (AP) — A Thai court on Thursday dismissed a murder case against ex-premier Abhisit Vejjajiva and his former deputy, who were both indicted for their role in ordering a deadly crackdown on anti-government protesters in 2010.

The judges ruled the Criminal Court has no authority to handle the case because the two accused were holders of political office at the time they gave the orders.

The ruling came three months after Thailand’s army chief overthrew the country’s elected government in a bloodless coup.

Abhisit and former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban had opposed the ousted government.

Dozens of people were killed in the 2010 crackdown when the army and police violently dispersed demonstrators who occupied downtown Bangkok for nine weeks.

Last year, Suthep went on to lead his own protests that had paralyzed the government of ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and culminated in a May 22 coup.

Official inquests have concluded that several of those killed in the 2010 crackdown were slain by bullets fired by Thai soldiers.

In their ruling Thursday, the judges said that the case will be handled by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions if the country’s anti-graft commission finds the two former officials responsible.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission has called in Suthep and Abhisit to clarify the crackdown orders they gave to security forces in 2010. But the commission has not pressed any charges against them.

The relatives of the slain protesters said they plan to appeal the court’s decision.

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