Abhisit and Suthep Will Not Escape Accountability for 2010 Bangkok Massacre, says Amsterdam
LONDON, 29 August 2014 – Following a ruling by a Thai court dismissing murder charges against former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban for their roles in the 2010 Bangkok massacre, international lawyer Robert Amsterdam says that the Red Shirt movement will not rest until the responsible parties are held accountable.
“More than 90 Thai citizens were brutally murdered by the Thai Army under the direction of Abhisit and Suthep simply because they protested for their right to vote. No matter where these men go, the spectre of this atrocity will haunt them,” said Amsterdam, who originally brought the case of the 2010 massacres before the International Criminal Court (ICC). “The military coup came to the rescue of these criminals, but what I can guarantee to all Red Shirt members, this will not be the final chapter in this story.”
The controversial decision by the Criminal Court of Thailand today dismissed the charges without considering the evidence, instead claiming that it did not have jurisdiction because Abhisit and Suthep held political office at the time of said crimes. Even the President the Criminal Court Thongchai Senamontri rejected the ruling, issuing an official “note of disagreement” along with the ruling highlighting the court’s rightful jurisdiction to handle the case.
The Bangkok massacre case has now been passed into the hands of the coup-appointed National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), which is all but certain to launder the crimes of the past government, says Amsterdam. “The NACC is an integral part of the coup-elite network that has now overthrown the past five democratically elected governments of Thailand, so we all can see what is happening now,” Amsterdam said.
The Criminal Court’s decision is particularly controversial given coup leader (and self appointed Prime Minister) General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s record of interference in the case, Amsterdam said. Before the coup, Prayuth had repeatedly threatened and intimidated investigators, lawyers, witnesses, and journalists involved in the Bangkok massacre case, according to a 23 August 2012 statement by Human Rights Watch.
This granting of impunity comes amidst a rapidly deteriorating situation for human rights in Thailand, Amsterdam says, pointing to the junta’s sentencing of seven protesters at McDonalds to a three-month jail term, as well as the widely condemned harassment of lawyer Ms. Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, who is being sued for “damaging the reputation of the army” because she documents torture for the Cross Cultural Foundation.
“This unjust precedent will not stand, and survivors and families of victims of the 2010 massacre will now pursue international legal avenues,” said Amsterdam. “It is beyond any doubt that the junta currently controlling Thailand will never, under any condition, allow standard, non-arbitrary legal proceedings on its watch, so will continue our pursuit of justice for the victims of the 2010 massacre.”