Ex-Thai PM wanted on terror charges

Court issues terrorism charges for Thaksin, death penalty possible.

May 25, 2010 12:35
1 minute read.
Bangkok Riots

Bangkok Riots. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

BANGKOK — A court in Thailand issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on terrorism charges, accusing the fugitive leader of inciting two months of civil disturbances in Bangkok that left 88 people dead and hundreds wouded.

Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup and later fled abroad ahead of a corruption conviction, has been accused by the government of being a key force behind Red Shirt protesters who seized areas of downtown Bangkok before being overcome by army troops last week.

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The Criminal Court issued the charges, which carry a death penalty, a day after testimony by the Department of Special Investigations into Thaksin's alleged involvement in the protests. The department alleged that Thaksin committed, threatened to commit or supported terrorist acts, but the court gave no further details.

Shortly after the announcement, Thaksin tweeted that the "government put weapons in my hands. My charge was based on false evidence."

Thaksin's lawyer, the London-based Robert Amsterdam, said the government "has perverted justice through the laying of a charge that violates logic, law and any claim of hopes for reconciliation."

On Monday, opposition leaders moved to impeach the current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva for his handling of rioting, and an army official said the capital would remain under curfew for another week as a precaution against further unrest.

"The purpose of the curfew is to separate the terrorists from the public," said army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd. He said the late hours of the curfew would not cause significant disturbances to the public.

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