Global Policy Forum

Lawyer Files Case with ICC Over Red Shirts

Lawyers acting for former Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, have filed a complaint with the ICC against current prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva. The complaint alleges that Vejjajiva committed crimes against humanity in a crackdown against Red Shirt protestors in 2010, which resulted in 91 deaths.  Shinawatra's motives are highly suspect, as he himself used the Thai police to suppress opponents while prime minister and he is currently evading corruption charges.  Shinawatra is likely attempting to use the ICC to further his own agenda, which sullies the investigation of legitimate concerns surrounding the Thai government's conduct during the 2010 Red Shirt protests.

By Pravit Rojanaphruk

February 1, 2011

Red-shirt lawyer Robert Amsterdam filed a notice with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague yesterday about a "potential crime-against-humanity case" - allegedly committed by the Thai government.

The application requests that an ICC prosecutor launch a preliminary investigation into the death of 91 people, mainly red-shirt demonstrators, who it alleges were "intentionally killed" by the government in April and May last year.

Amsterdam has alleged that the government set the stage for a deadly crackdown by using security officers camouflaged as the mysterious "men in black" to stage fatal attacks on Army troops sent to suppress the demonstrators on April 10. This was done so the Army could justify deadly retaliation, he has claimed, adding that no "men in black" were arrested.

"We will find a course and we will bring justice to the people of Thailand," Amsterdam said via a videoconference from Tokyo yesterday. "We have a massive amount of evidence."

The Canadian lawyer said evidence included the firing of live ammunition into the air, including .50-calibre heavy-machine-gun fire, equipping troops with military weapons and employing snipers "without immediate threat".

He insisted that the military never intended to disperse the crowd and left no escape route and intended to create chaos and assassinate red-shirt leaders. When the plan failed, the Army then provoked the crowd looking for an excuse to open fire, he claimed.

Amsterdam also claimed the Army hired arsonists to set fire to buildings at Ratchaprasong Intersection on May 19 to justify the brutal crackdown. Amsterdam said he filed the case because "Thailand has demonstrated a complete absence of the rule of law".

His "Plan A" was to get the ICC, of which Thailand is not a member, to accept the case against Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. He claimed this was feasible because Abhisit was born in England, and according to the 1948 British Citizen Act was a British subject unless he had forfeited citizenship, and Britain is a signatory to the ICC.

Abhisit denied this later, saying he was not a UK citizen.

The lawyer, hired by fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, insisted that he also had a Plan B - and more.

"We have a Plan A to Z," he told Thai and Japanese media, as well as hundreds of red shirts who went to see the video link at Imperial World Lat Phrao in Bangkok.

He admitted that getting the case accepted by the ICC would be a "difficult course" but claimed it was not impossible and that there were other grounds. "We need to convince the prosecutor to go forth."

The 250-page application can be accessed via his website.

"The Army is not the enemy. It is those who directed it."

He urged rank-and-file soldiers who witnessed or were involved in the crackdown to come forward to provide more evidence.

The ICC is an international court of "last resort" that only hears extremely serious cases involving genocide and crimes against humanity - if such offences are not dealt with by a country's justice system. Observers say there is little likelihood of the court taking up the matter.

Amsterdam said the result would take quite a while. But he said: "Why wait? Why allow this man to continue?" He was referring to Abhisit. "Thai people will have to go home and ask him."

Red-shirt Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship Thida Thavornsaet Tojirakarn said the filing of the case "is just the beginning".


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