[JURIST] Former prime minister of Thailand and head of the opposition Democrat Party [TIME backgrounder], Abhisit Vejjajiva [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], was formally charged Thursday with the murder of two individuals during the 2010 Thai military crackdown [TIME backgrounder] on anti-government protests. In 2010 the Red Shirt protesters, supporters of current PM Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother, exiled former PM Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile], occupied [Guardian report] downtown Bangkok before being dispersed by Abhisit’s government forces authorized to use live ammunition in limited circumstances. These are not the first murder chargers against the former PM; in 2012 the Thai Department of Special Investigation (DSI) [official website, in Thai] charged [JURIST report] Vejjajiva with murder for his role in the 2010 crackdown that left more than 90 people dead and about 1,800 injured in Bangkok.
Thailand’s political system has been unstable since the 2006 military coup [AHRC backgrounder, PDF] by the Royal Thai Army against then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Recent protests has only exacerbated the instability. At the end of November Yingluck Shinawatra announced [JURIST report] that there will be no early election in response to recent mass protests by citizens who want her removed from office. Also in November protesters in Thailand demanded [JURIST report] assistance in overthrowing the government after Shinawatra survived a no-confidence vote by parliament. In response to the protests, Shinawatra invoked a special security law [JURIST report] in districts of Bangkok and nearby areas after protesters stormed and occupied several key ministries. At the beginning of November, Thailand’s high court refused to allow [JURIST report] the ruling party to amend constitution.