BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a case against former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva for ordering a deadly crackdown on demonstrators protesting against his government in 2010.
More than 90 people were killed in the unrest, one of the bloodiest episodes in more than a decade of turmoil stemming from rivalry for power between populist former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the conservative establishment.
Abhisit and his deputy, Suthep Thaugsuban, were accused of murder and attempted murder in connection with the crackdown on Thaksin’s red-shirted supporters to end their two-month street protest in Bangkok.
The Supreme Court upheld rulings by lower courts that the police’s Department of Special Investigation had no jurisdiction to bring the case.
It was brought in 2014, before the government of Thaksin’s sister, then prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, was ousted after weeks of at times violent anti-government protests by yellow-shirted supporters of the establishment.
Yingluck had defeated Abhisit’s pro-establishment Democrat Party in an election in 2011.
The Supreme Court said that any case against Abhisit would have to be filed by the National Anti-Corruption Commission through a specific division of the court that deals with those who held political office.
Abhisit made no comment after the case was dismissed.
Longstanding political divisions and the tangle of legal cases around them returned to the fore last week when Yingluck fled Thailand before a criminal negligence verdict over a costly rice subsidy scheme for which she faced up to 10 years in jail.
She denied any wrongdoing.
A spokesman for the pro-Shinawatra United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, said the group had already petitioned the Anti-Corruption Commission to take the case against Abhisit and Suthep back to court.
“Red-shirt supporters around the country feel that there is a double standard in the Thai justice system,” the spokesman, Thanawut Wichaidit, said.
This month, supporters of the establishment were furious when a court dismissed a case against another former prime minister, Thaksin’s brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat, for ordering a crackdown on a demonstration in 2008.
The military government has tried to encourage reconciliation and has also promised to hold a general election next year.
Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um, Panarat Thepgumpanat, and Aukkarapon Niyomyat