Two former Thai PMs acquitted over 2008 ‘Yellow Shirt’ protest deaths
Thailand’s highest court today acquitted two ex-prime ministers and two former top police officers over their role in a 2008 crackdown on anti-government protesters that killed two people.
Former premier Somchai Wongsawat and his then-deputy Chavalit Yongchaiyudh faced negligence charges over a police operation to remove protesters who had laid siege to parliament.
The deadly incident was one of many violent flare-ups over the past decade between their political camp, a populist movement led by former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, and a conservative Bangkok-based establishment.
Police fought pitched battles with demonstrators, some of whom possessed homemade bombs, and fired multiple rounds of tear gas. Two died and hundreds were wounded.
Former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat (C), brother-in-law of Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra, waves to supporters as he arrives at the Supreme Court in Bangkok, Aug. 2, 2017. Photo: AFP
After the military seized power in 2014, authorities put the four men on trial.
But in its ruling on Wednesday, nine judges dismissed the case, arguing that authorities had a responsibility to clear the protesters because they had not remained peaceful and that none of the defendants bore direct responsibility for the deaths.
“The protesters surrounded parliament and threatened to storm the building, therefore it was not