Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said Wednesday he respected the National Anti-Corruption Commission's resolution to seek his impeachment and that of his former deputy Suthep Thaugsuban for their alleged mishandling of the bloody break-up of red-sh
Abhisit said he was confident and ready to prove his innocence and explained that the situation he was in was not easy to handle. He insisted that he had adjusted strategies to avoid casualties but it was not easy because armed men were mingling among the protesters.
Vicha Mahakhun, spokesman for the NACC, had said that Abhisit and Suthep did not review or adjust the tactics used by military personnel to disperse the demonstrators.
Abhisit said Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, who was the deputy Army chief at the time, understood the situation well, as did former defence minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, and former Army chief General Anupong Paochinda. He said the witness testimony of all three would be useful, but he was not certain if they were prepared to be his witnesses.
“In that situation, with some protesters resorting to heavy arms, would it not have been a dereliction of duty if the government had done nothing?’’ he said.
The crackdown on April 10 and May 19 left more than 90 people dead, mostly red-shirt members of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, but also ordinary citizens. The NACC believed there were grounds to impeach Abhisit and Suthep because the crackdown caused the death or injury not only of unarmed protesters, but also of innocent bystanders, including a boy.
Abhisit argued that the deaths of taxi driver Pan Kamgong and the boy, Kunakorn Srisuwan, and the serious injuries suffered by Samorn Maithong took place as security officials blocked restriction zones and not during the crackdown or dispersal of protesters.
Abhisit said Samorn drove a van into the restricted zone and the security officials had already warned him. Pan was not killed in his taxi—he was killed when he ran out to observe the scene. “There was no intention to bring about casualties because security officials had warned them,’’ he said.
He said from May 14-19, the government had issued warnings that armed men were hiding themselves among protesters. “We warned even the media, health personnel, volunteers and the protesters that they were in danger because armed men mingled with the crowd,’’ he said.
“It was not easy. If we did nothing, we would be accused of dereliction of duty. Suthep and I are already facing suits over negligence that led to loss of assets,’’ he said.