Thai Oppn urges world court to probe Bangkok violence

Thailand`s "Red Shirt" movement has urged the world court to probe crimes against humanity by Abhisit govt.

Bangkok: Thailand`s "Red Shirt" anti-government movement has urged the International Criminal Court to investigate possible crimes against humanity by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva`s government.

The petition argues that the country`s political and military leadership are "criminally liable" for actions taken during two months of mass opposition protests in April and May that left more than 90 people dead, mainly civilians.

The Red Shirts, many of whom support fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, accuse the government of a "massive cover-up", according to details posted on the website of Thaksin`s Canadian lawyer Robert Amsterdam.

He said his firm was involved in the filing of the "preliminary report", based on interviews with dozens of witnesses and survivors, at the Hague-based ICC this week.

Thailand`s government said it was aware of the complaint, but did not believe it would be taken up by the court.

"I have been informed by the ministry of foreign affairs about the case," said government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn.

"But as I understand it this is not within the scope of the International Criminal Court`s jurisdiction," he added.

The two-month rally by the Reds attracted up to 100,000 people demanding immediate elections, but was broken up by soldiers firing live ammunition.

The petition says the army was "given the authority to shoot the mostly unarmed demonstrators on sight," noting that at one point the authorities designated certain areas as live fire zones.
On April 10, during a failed military attempt to clear part of Bangkok`s historic district of protests, troops "fired thousands of rounds of live ammunition directly into the unarmed Red Shirt crowd," it says.

It cites the examples of one man whose brains were blown out by a rifle shot while carrying a Red Shirt banner, and a renegade general allied to the Reds who was killed by a sniper while giving an interview to a foreign reporter.
At the time Abhisit accused "terrorists" of inciting the violence. His government said its troops were only allowed to fire live rounds in self defence, as warning shots or against armed militants.

Abhisit promised an investigation into the deaths but the opposition has denounced the probe as a "whitewash".

Bureau Report