Border controls have been tightened in Thailand after former PM Yingluck Shinawatra failed to show up for the verdict in her trial over a rice subsidy scheme.
Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan said it was possible the former prime minister had already fled the country.
Lawyers for Yingluck Shinawatra, who is charged with negligence, said she was unable to attend court because she was ill.
However, the Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant for her, confiscated her bail of $900,000 and delayed the verdict to September 27.
Yingluck Shinawatra has denied any wrongdoing in the scheme which cost Thailand billions of dollars. If found guilty, she could be jailed for up to 10 years and permanently banned from politics.
On August 25, PM Prayuth Chan-ocha said all routes out of Thailand were being closely monitored.
“I just learned that she did not show up [at court],” he told reporters.
“I have ordered border checkpoints to be stepped up.”
Prawit Wongsuwan initially said he had no information on Yingluck Shinawatra’s whereabouts but as he left a meeting in Bangkok he said: “It is possible that she has fled already.”
Earlier, Yingluck Shinawatra’s lawyer requested a delay in the ruling, telling the court that she had vertigo and a severe headache and was unable to attend.
However, an official Supreme Court statement said it did not believe she was sick as there was no medical certificate and that the claimed sickness was not severe enough that she could not travel to court.
“Such behavior convincingly shows that she is a flight risk. As a result, the court has issued an arrest warrant and confiscated the posted bail money,” the statement said.
A Thailand’s junta-backed council has rejected the controversial new constitution drafted after last year’s coup.
A new committee must now be appointed to write another draft, further setting back elections.
The draft has been widely criticized, in particular a clause which enables a 23-member panel to take over government during a “national crisis”.
Thailand’s army ousted the elected government after months of political unrest.
The 247-member National Reform Council rejected the draft charter by 135 votes to 105, with seven abstentions.
Correspondents say that it met strong opposition on practically all sides of the political divide.
Another committee will have 180 days to write a new one, which will later be put to a nationwide referendum.
Until a new constitution can be drafted, the military government retains its substantial powers.
It had said elections could take place in late 2016, but analysts say the delay means 2017 is more likely.
Critics of the draft constitution say it would erode the power of political parties in favor of the army and prevent a genuine democracy from being established.
Thailand has seen numerous different constitutions since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932.
For years Thailand has been divided between pro-democracy parties that support former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, and an alliance of conservatives, including members of the military, the judiciary and royalists.
Thaksin Shinawatra’s allies have prevailed in every election since 2001, but have faced two coups and the removal of three prime ministers by the courts.
Thailand’s ex-PM Yingluck Shinawatra has pleaded not guilty in a brief hearing at the start of her trial on charges of negligence.
Yingluck Shinawatra, 47, faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of dereliction of duty over her role in a controversial rice subsidy scheme.
The former prime minister told crowds outside the court in Bangkok she would prove her innocence.
Yingluck Shinawatra was forced to step down last year shortly before a military coup.
She maintains that the charges she faces are intended to keep her out of politics. The next hearing in the trial has been scheduled for July 21.
Meanwhile Yingluck Shinawatra’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra – himself ousted as prime minister by a previous coup in 2006 – has made a rare public appearance in Seoul, South Korea, saying he believed “democracy will prevail” in Thailand.
Thailand’s Constitutional Court forced Yingluck Shinawatra from office in early May 2014 after finding her guilty of abusing her power. Weeks later, the military seized power saying it needed to restore order following months of street protests.
In January 2015, Yingluck Shinawatra was retroactively impeached by a military-appointed legislature for her role in the rice subsidy scheme. She was also banned from politics for five years.
The scheme paid rice farmers in rural areas – where Yingluck Shinawatra’s party has most of its support – twice the market rate for their crops, in a program that cost the government billions of dollars.
Arriving at the Supreme Court on May 19, Yingluck Shinawatra told journalists she was confident of her innocence.
“I prepared myself well today and am ready to defend myself,” Reuters quoted the former prime minister as saying.
“I hope that I will be awarded justice.”
A small group of her supporters outside the court chanted “Yingluck, fight, fight!” as she arrived, though political gatherings are illegal under Thailand’s military rule.
Yingluck Shinawatra says she was not involved in the scheme’s day-to-day operations and has defended it as an attempt to support the rural poor.
Thaksin Shinawatra was removed by a previous coup in 2006. He now lives in self-imposed exile to avoid a jail sentence for corruption.
However, the influence of the family persists, with parties allied to the Shinawatras winning every election since 2001.
They are loved in the rural north for their populist policies, but hated by Thailand’s elite who accuse them of corruption.
Thailand’s ousted PM Yingluck Shinawatra has received approval to travel abroad for the first time since the military coup.
A military spokesman said the request had been approved because Yingluck Shinawatra had “kept a low profile” since her government was overthrown on May 22.
Reports suggest Yingluck Shinawatra will travel to France for the birthday of her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra.
Yingluck Shinawatra was ousted ahead of the military coup by Thailand’s Constitutional Court
The military seized power after months of anti-government protests in Bangkok.
Thaksin Shianwatra, who turns 65 on July 26, was ousted in a coup in 2006.
He was removed by the military, kicking off a cycle of political instability in Thailand. Convicted of corruption by a Thai court, he has been living in self-imposed exile overseas.
Yingluck Shianwatra had asked to travel to Europe from July 20 to August 10, the military said.
They agreed because she had not “violated any orders of the NCPO [military junta] or any agreements, being the ban from politics or the ban on overseas travels” and had “given good co-operation all along”, spokesman Col. Winthai Suvaree told a press conference.
At least 28 people died in the anti-government protests that brought Yingluck Shinawatra’s government down.
Yingluck Shinawatra herself was ousted ahead of the coup by a Constitutional Court ruling that said she had illegally transferred her national security head. She is currently facing charges linked to a controversial government rice subsidy scheme.
The Thai polling has now ended in a general election boycotted by the opposition and blighted by protests.
Anti-government activists forced some polling stations in Bangkok and the south to close but a large majority elsewhere were said to be peaceful.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra called the vote to head off weeks of mass protests aimed at forcing her to resign.
Her party is widely expected to win but legal challenges and a lack of a quorum of MPs may create a political limbo.
Yingluck Shinawatra, who won the last election in 2011, voted soon after polls opened on Sunday near her Bangkok home.
Her opponents took to the streets in November after her government tried to pass an amnesty law that would potentially have allowed her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, to return from exile.
Thaksin Shinawatra, a former prime minister who fled during a court case in 2008, is reviled by the protesters, who say he controls the government from abroad.
Security has been heavy throughout Thailand, with vast areas under a state of emergency because of the protests.
“The situation overall is calm and we haven’t received any reports of violence this morning,” National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanatabutr told Reuters.
Security officials said about 130,000 personnel had been deployed across Thailand on Sunday, including 12,000 in Bangkok.
Yingluck Shinawatra, who won the last election in 2011, voted soon after polls opened on Sunday near her Bangkok home
There has been little campaigning for the election and it was unclear how many Thais had turned out.
Voting in 13 of Bangkok’s 33 constituencies, and in 37 of 56 constituencies in the south was disrupted.
These are strongholds of the opposition Democrat Party, which is boycotting the election.
Some voters expressed frustration when they found their local polling stations blocked.
One high-profile politician, independent candidate and anti-corruption campaigner Chuwit Kamolvisit, brawled with anti-election activists.
“They tried to attack me while I was trying to vote,” he said.
Polling in the rural north and east, where Yingluck Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai party has overwhelming support, was largely unaffected.
“Today is an important day,” Yingluck Shinawatra said as she voted.
“I would like to invite Thai people to come out and vote to uphold democracy.”
However, disruption to candidate registration means that even if she wins, there will not be enough MPs in parliament for Yingluck Shinawatra to have full power over government policy, and by-elections will be needed.
The opposition is also likely to mount legal challenges to the election.
Yingluck Shinawatra’s party is already facing a host of challenges in the courts aiming to disband it, as has happened with pro-Thaksin parties in the past.
The Democrat Party, which is allied to the protesters, has been unable to win a majority in parliament for more than two decades.
Many of its members want the government to be replaced by an unelected “people’s council” that would oversee wide reform of the political system.
Trouble broke out in Bangkok on Saturday in a violent clash between pro- and anti-government groups.
A gun battle erupted in the Lak Si constituency as anti-government protesters blockaded a building storing ballot papers. At least seven people were wounded.
Violent clashes involving anti-government protesters have erupted ahead of Sunday’s elections in Thai capital, Bangkok.
According to local media, several people have been injured by gunfire.
The violence erupted during a stand-off between supporters and opponents of PM Yingluck Shinawatra.
The shots were fired as demonstrators blockaded a building where ballot papers are being stored, in an attempt to prevent their distribution.
Protesters want the government replaced by an unelected “people’s council”.
The opposition has vowed to boycott Sunday’s poll, which is likely to be won by Yingluck Shinawatra.
The incident took place in Bangkok’s Laksi district, a stronghold of the prime minister’s Pheu Thai party.
Thai protesters want Yingluck Shinawatra’s government replaced by an unelected people’s council
A number of people could be seen lying injured on the road, as exchanges of gunfire continued, forcing reporters and passers-by to flee for cover.
It was not immediately clear whether those wounded were government supporters or opponents.
The protest movement has vowed to disrupt the election as much as possible, by preventing ballot papers from reaching polling stations.
The army earlier said it would increase the number of troops deployed in Bangkok for the polls on Sunday. Some 10,000 police will also patrol the streets.
The protests began in November, after the lower house backed a controversial amnesty bill that critics said would allow Yingluck Shinawatra’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, to return.
Yingluck Shinawatra called early elections to quell the unrest, but demonstrators have vowed to block the poll from going ahead.
Correspondents say one election commissioner has predicted that 10% of polling stations will not be able to open at all on Sunday.
Because of disruption to candidate registration, the elections will also not deliver enough MPs for a quorum in parliament, meaning that by-elections will be needed before a government can be approved, extending the instability.
Thai protesters have surrounded polling stations, blocking early voting ahead of next week’s general election, officials say.
One of their leaders has been shot dead during a clash with government supporters just outside the capital, Bangkok.
Advance voting has reportedly been cancelled in a number of locations.
Anti-government activists want Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down and the political system to be reformed.
Suthin Taratin was speaking on top of a truck, which was part of a rally at a polling station where advanced voting was supposed to take place, when he was struck by gunfire.
He died later in hospital.
Crowds of flag-waving demonstrators chained the doors of polling stations shut, despite promises by protest leaders not to obstruct the polls.
The protesters surrounded polling stations in Bangkok and southern Thailand in an attempt to stop people voting.
Thai protesters have surrounded polling stations, blocking early voting ahead of next week’s general election
Voting was either blocked completely or halted at 48 out of 50 polling stations in Bangkok.
Thailand’s election commission has called for the general vote scheduled for February 2 to be postponed because of possible disruption and violence.
But the government has so far insisted that the election must go ahead on schedule.
The latest disturbances comes despite a pledge from protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who said on Saturday that his supporters would not obstruct advance voting – although they would demonstrate outside polling stations.
The protest movement says it is not obstructing the poll, but that “supporters are simply protesting the advance polls held today by surrounding/standing in front of election units”, in a statement on its Facebook page.
Advance voting is for those unable to take part in the February election.
A state of emergency is in place as the authorities struggle to cope with the unrest.
Protesters, who started their campaign in November, want to install an unelected “people’s council” to run the country until the political system is changed.
They say Yingluck Shinawatra’s government is being influenced by her brother, exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thailand’s pro-government “red-shirt” leader Kwanchai Praipana has been shot, as the 60-day state of emergency came into effect in Bangkok and nearby provinces.
Kwanchai Praipana, a local radio presenter who played a large role in Bangkok protests in 2010, was wounded at his home in Udon Thani in the north.
It came as anti-government protesters continued to block parts of Bangkok to force the prime minister to resign.
The emergency decree gives the government wide-ranging powers.
Imposed late on Tuesday, it covers Bangkok and three surrounding provinces. It gives the government the power to control crowds and censor media, but it remains unclear how it will be enforced.
The protesters – who began their campaign in November – say PM Yingluck Shinawatra’s government is being influenced by her brother, exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.
The protesters want an unelected “people’s council” to run Thailand until its political system is changed.
Kwanchai Praipana, a local radio presenter who played a large role in Bangkok protests in 2010, was wounded at his home in Udon Thani
Yingluck Shinawatra has refused to step down and has called an election on February 2, which the opposition are boycotting.
The emergency declaration follows incidents of violence during protests, with both the pro-government and anti-government sides blaming each other for attacks.
At least nine people have died since the wave of protests started last year.
Kwanchai Praipana, a prominent leader of the “red shirts” who support Thaksin Shinawatra and the current government, was wounded in the leg and shoulder while standing outside his home on Wednesday.
Police Colonel Kowit Tharoenwattanasuk told Reuters news agency that unidentified people fired shots from a pick-up truck.
He added that the attack was possibly a “politically motivated crime”.
The “red-shirt” government supporters – who shut down Bangkok in 2010 – have for the most part stayed away from these protests. But observers fear that violence could erupt if a trigger brought them out onto the streets.
In Bangkok, meanwhile, there was little change seen on the streets in the first few hours of the state of emergency, with anti-government protesters continuing their blockades in the city centre.
Thai protesters are blocking roads in parts of Bangkok in a bid to oust Yingluck Shinawatra’s government before snap elections on February 2.
The protesters have built barricades and occupied key road junctions.
The government has deployed 18,000 security personnel to maintain order.
The protesters, who began their campaign in November, want to replace the government of PM Yingluck Shinawatra with an unelected “People’s Council”.
They allege Yingluck Shinawatra is a proxy for her brother, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by the military in 2006 and is currently in self-imposed exile.
Protesters claim populist policies from Thaksin Shinawatra-allied parties have created a flawed democracy.
However, Thaksin Shinawatra-allied parties draw considerable support from rural voters and have a majority in the Thai parliament. Parties allied to Thaksin Shinawatra have won the last four elections.
The main opposition party is now boycotting the 2 February polls. Anti-government protesters have called on Yingluck Shinawatra to step down.
Yingluck Shinawatra has previously urged protesters to respect the democratic process and use the February elections to choose the next government.
At least eight people have been killed since the protests began late last year. On Saturday, at least seven people were injured when unknown gunmen opened fire on demonstrators at the main rally site in Bangkok.
Thai protesters are blocking roads in parts of Bangkok in a bid to oust Yingluck Shinawatra’s government
On Sunday night, an unidentified gunman attacked demonstrators at a protest site, shooting at least one man, officials said.
Police said a gunman also fired shots at the opposition party headquarters in a separate incident, although no casualties were reported.
Thousands are reported to have turned out for Monday’s demonstrations. Protesters say they intend to achieve what they are calling a shutdown of the capital.
Seven major intersections have been blocked by the anti-government protest movement, which has erected stages and piles of sandbags across the roads.
The government says it wants life to continue as normal through the shutdown and has ordered extra trains to run on the mass transit system and provided thousands of additional parking places outside the city centre.
Protesters also plan to surround key ministries and cut off their power supply in a bid to prevent them from functioning. About 150 schools have been told to close.
The protesters say they will remain in place for several days – but say they will not target public transport or the airports, which were closed for several days by anti-Thaksin protesters in 2008.
Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who was formerly a senior opposition party politician, described the movement as “a people’s revolution”.
Yingluck Shinawatra was “no longer prime minister” in the eyes of the demonstrators, he told reporters on Monday.
The government says it is deploying 8,000 soldiers and 10,000 police to keep order.
The military – which has carried out several coups in the past – has refused to rule out another one. Some fear an escalation of violence could lead to a military intervention.
The government has so far worked to avoid confrontation with the protesters.
Yingluck Shianwatra had “ordered all police and military personnel to exercise utmost restraint and not to use all kinds of weapons in handling the protesters”, the deputy prime minister said.
The political unrest is the worst to hit Thailand since the protests of 2010, which were against a government led by the current opposition party and left more than 90 people dead, mostly civilian protesters.
Thailand’s government has decided to deploy troops in Bangkok to support riot police shielding official buildings from anti-government protesters.
Tear gas and water cannon were fired as protesters tried to breach barricades outside Government House.
Activists have threatened to enter key government buildings, including the headquarters of PM Yingluck Shinawatra.
Sunday is the eighth day of protests aimed at unseating Yingluck Shinawatra.
Protest leaders had said it would be the decisive day. They declared it “V-Day” of what they are calling a “people’s coup”.
Two people were killed and dozens more wounded on Saturday as pro- and anti-government groups clashed.
Troops have been deployed in Bangkok to support riot police shielding official buildings from anti-government protesters
The anti-government Civil Movement for Democracy has announced an all-out assault on the heart of the government, with the aim of replacing it with a “People’s Council”.
It says Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration is controlled by her brother, exiled ex-leader Thaksin Shinawatra.
The Bangkok Post reported that a group of anti-government protesters had taken control of the Thai PBS television station. They told PBS officials to televise speeches made by the protest leaders, the report said.
Police drove back another set of demonstrators at the police headquarters.
Officials denied rumors Yingluck Shinawatra had left the country, but her whereabouts are unknown.
Yingluck Shinawatra had earlier said the government would use minimum force to hold back the protesters.
Hundreds of Thai protesters forced their way into the army headquarters in Bangkok, on the sixth day of anti-government rallies.
The protesters broke open a gate, held a rally in the compound asking for the army’s help in their campaign, and later withdrew without confrontation.
On Thursday, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra called for an end to the demonstrations after surviving a no-confidence vote.
But protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has rejected her appeal.
“We will not let them work anymore,” the former senior opposition lawmaker said in a speech late on Thursday.
On Friday, at least 1,000 protesters forced their way into the army headquarters compound, but did not enter any buildings.
They urged the army to come out in support of the demonstrators.
Hundreds of Thai protesters forced their way into the army headquarters in Bangkok, on the sixth day of anti-government rallies
“We want to know which side the army stands on,” Reuters news agency quoted one protester as saying.
Meanwhile security was tightened around the ruling Pheu Thai party headquarters, where more protesters had massed.
Demonstrators have been surrounding and occupying official buildings this week in an attempt to disrupt the government.
During the demonstrations, which have been largely peaceful so far, participants have cut the electricity supply to the national police headquarters and forced the evacuation of Thailand’s top crime-fighting agency.
The protesters say Yingluck Shinawatra’s government is controlled by her brother, exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.
Yingluck Shinawatra has invoked special powers allowing curfews and road closures, and police have also ordered the arrest of Suthep Thaugsuban – but so far no move has been made to detain him.
In a televised address on Thursday, Yingluck Shinawatra said the protesters should negotiate with the government.
“The government doesn’t want to enter into any political games because we believe it will cause the economy to deteriorate,” Yingluck Shinawatra said.
Thai protesters have surrounded several more ministries, as street demonstrations continue in Bangkok.
The protesters want Yingluck Shinawatra’s government to resign, saying it is controlled by her brother – ousted former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.
After a huge rally on Sunday, they marched to several Bangkok locations.
Late on Monday, Yingluck Shinawatra invoked special powers allowing officials to impose curfews and seal roads.
The protests have been triggered by a controversial political amnesty bill.
The demonstrators say the legislation – which failed in the Senate – would have allowed Thaksin Shinawatra to return to Thailand without serving a jail sentence for corruption.
Thailand has been bitterly divided since Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a military coup in 2006 and the proposal re-ignited simmering political tensions.
Groups of protesters, who are being led by former opposition Democratic Party lawmaker Suthep Thaugsuban, camped out at the foreign and finance ministries overnight.
On Tuesday, they surrounded the interior, tourism, transport and agriculture ministries.
There were around 1,000 protesters gathered outside both the finance and interior ministries, blowing whistles and chanting “get out!”, reports said.
“We have to leave because they [the protesters] will cut the utilities,” Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Pureesrisak told AFP news agency.
Thai protesters have surrounded several more ministries, as street demonstrations continue in Bangkok
Akanat Promphan, a protest spokesman, said: “We are occupying the finance ministry in a non-violent and peaceful way, so our supporters around the country can do the same and occupy all government offices.”
“Tomorrow there will be a nationwide movement,” he added.
However, Thida Thavornseth, a leader of the “red shirts”, who support Thaksin Shinawatra, told AFP news agency: “Suthep [Thaugsuban] is not trying to throw out the government… he wants to throw out democracy and replace it with an ultra-royalist administration.”
The opposition Democrat Party has also started a censure motion in parliament against the government, over its alleged misuse of the budget.
The motion highlights an expensive rice subsidy scheme launched by the government after it took office.
Under the scheme, the government bought rice directly from farmers, paying more than the market rate. India and Vietnam increased their share of global rice exports as a result, overtaking Thailand as the world’s largest rice exporter.
The government is expected to defeat the censure motion, since the ruling Pheu Thai party has a majority in parliament.
The protests are the biggest to hit Thailand since the violence of 2010, when “red-shirt” opponents of the then Democratic Party government occupied key parts of the capital.
More than 90 people, mostly civilian protesters, died over the course of the two-month sit-in.
A government led by Yingluck Shinawatra and the ruling Pheu Thai Party was subsequently elected and since then Thailand has remained relatively politically stable.
But the opposition accuses Thaksin Shinawatra of running the government from self-imposed exile overseas, and the now-shelved amnesty bill has served as a spark for renewed protests.
Yingluck Shinawatra invoked the Internal Security Act late on Monday. But she said on Tuesday the government would not use violence to end the protests.
“Everybody must obey the law and not use mob rule to upstage the rule of law,” she told reporters.
“If we can talk, I believe the country will return to normal,” she added.
Tens of thousands of protesters marched on Bangkok streets for a second day of anti-government demonstrations in Thailand, forcing their way into the finance ministry.
The protesters, who began their action over the weekend, want the government of PM Yingluck Shinawatra to step down.
After a huge rally on Sunday, crowds marched on Monday to several different locations in the city.
The protests have been triggered by a controversial political amnesty bill.
The legislation, which the opposition say would have allowed ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra – the current prime minister’s brother – to return to Thailand without serving a jail sentence for corruption, failed to pass in the Senate earlier this month.
But the proposed legislation led to a fresh outbreak of street protests, reigniting simmering political divisions and raising the specter of renewed political turmoil in the South East Asian nation.
On Monday the anti-government protesters, who are led by a former opposition Democratic Party lawmaker, marched to state offices, military headquarters and television stations.
Campaign leader Suthep Thaugsuban had said the protest would be peaceful, with crowds “blowing whistles and handing out flowers”.
But at the finance ministry, a group of around 40 people swarmed into the compound.
Tens of thousands of protesters marched on Bangkok streets for a second day of anti-government demonstrations in Thailand
“Tomorrow [Tuesday] we will seize all ministries to show to the Thaksin system that they have no legitimacy to run the country,” AFP news agency quoted Suthep Thaugsuban as saying.
Sunday’s demonstration drew an estimated 100,000 people, who called on the government to step down.
“We have stood by silently while her [PM Yingluck Shinawatra’s] brother calls the shots and she runs the country into the ground with loss-making policies,” Reuters news agency quoted protester Suwang Ruangchai, 54, as saying.
About 40,000 government supporters held a separate rally in another part of the capital on Sunday.
Thailand has been bitterly divided since Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a military coup in 2006.
Groups opposed to him occupied Bangkok’s main airport in 2008, shutting it down. Then in 2010, those who backed him and his allies held two months of street protests that paralyzed Bangkok.
Those demonstrations ended in a military crackdown. More than 90 people – mostly civilian protesters – died over the course of the two-month sit-in.
A government led by Thaksin Shinawatra’s sister was subsequently elected and since then Thailand has remained relatively politically stable.
But the opposition accuses Thaksin Shinawatra of running the government from self-imposed exile overseas, and the now-shelved amnesty bill has served as a spark for renewed protests.
The bill applied to offences committed during the upheaval after Thaksin Shinawatra was removed from office. Yingluck Shinawatra’s government had argued that the legislation was a necessary step towards reconciliation.
But critics said it would allow human rights abuses – such as the killing of civilian protesters – to go unpunished.
And the opposition viewed it as a way of overturning the jail sentence given to Thaksin Shinawatra, paving the way for his return.
Thaksin Shinawatra is a deeply polarizing figure in Thai politics. He drew huge support from Thailand’s rural poor but strong opposition from other sectors in society, and the divisions dating from the 2006 coup continue to dominate the political landscape.
Abhisit Vejjajiva, the former Thai prime minister, has been charged with murder over the death of a taxi driver shot by soldiers during political violence.
Abhisit Vejjajiva was prime minister when thousands of protesters took to the streets in 2010 demanding his government step down.
He gave orders allowing troops to use live ammunition on protesters, who had shut down parts of Bangkok.
Abhisit Vejjajiva denies the charge, which supporters say is politically motivated.
More than 90 people, both civilians and soldiers, were killed in the protests, which went on for over two months.
Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy at the time, Suthep Thaugsuban, are the first officials to face charges in connection with the deaths.
The move was announced last week, after a court ruled in September that taxi driver Phan Kamkong had been killed by troops.
Abhisit Vejjajiva, the former Thai prime minister, has been charged with murder over the death of a taxi driver shot by soldiers during political violence
Now the leader of the opposition, Abhisit Vejjajiva has defended his order for live ammunition to be used, saying government forces had “very little option” but to act when live fire was used against them.
“We tried to negotiate with the protesters, and they wouldn’t accept any of the deals that we offered them,” he said.
“It was our duty to restore order, and that’s what we were trying to do.”
Abhisit Vejjajiva said he would fight to prove he was not guilty.
Elections held after the protests, in July 2011, were won by the party led by Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of Thaksin Shinawatra, the ousted prime minister whom many of the protesters backed.
Twenty-four protest leaders are also being prosecuted on terrorism charges.
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