Decision on Thai "red-shirts" amnesty to be made within days: investigation chief

11:14, June 15, 2010      

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The authorities are mulling whether to grant amnesty to red-shirted protesters charged with minor offenses, and the decision is expected to come up within a couple of days, Department of Special Investigation (DSI) director- general Tharit Pengdit said on Monday.

Bangkok Post online quoted Tharit as saying that the government 's Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situations (CRES), in charge of domestic security under Emergency Decree, had assigned the DSI, the National Security Council and the Council of State to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of an amnesty.

"If the CRES agrees with our decision it will be proposed to the government. I expect there will be a resolution in one to two days," said the chief of DSI, a major department responsible for investigation on the cases of the "red-shirts" rally from March 14 to May 19, which led to clashes between the protesters and security forces, leaving 88 dead and about 2,000 injured.

Amnesty could be given to the protesters who committed only minor offenses and most of them would not serve longer than two years in prison. But people facing serious charges such as terrorism and arson would be prosecuted under the law, Tharit said.

He added that if all sides come to an agreement, a draft law could be proposed to expedite the legal process.

An amnesty can be given by executive decree issued by the government and can take immediate effect and later be approved by the parliament, or by means of an amnesty to be proposed to the parliament, according to Bangkok Post online.

On the other hand, the Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, head of CRES, confirmed Monday that the centre is considering whether an executive decree should be issued giving amnesty to the "red-shirts" protesters.

This is one way the CRES can support Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's reconciliation plan, said Suthep.

He stressed, however, the CRES was just exploring ways of bringing peace to the country. If the majority of the people oppose an amnesty then it might not happen.

Suthep admitted there were people opposed to the idea and who believed it would lead to difficulties in future implementation of the law.

Abhisit proposed on May 3 a five-point political reconciliation plan in a bid to end the prolonged rally by the " red-shirts" in Bangkok after two rounds of peace talk between the government and the protesters' leaders failed.

Not more than 50 have been charged with terrorism. Of them, 20 have already turned themselves in to the police, according to a report by Bangkok Post Saturday.

The government said during the chronic "red-shirts" rally that there were terrorists infiltrated into the protesters.

The "red-shirts", most of them supporters of the ex-premier Thaksin shinawatra, staged a mass rally in Bangkok on March 14, urging Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve the House and to hold a snap election.

The leaders of the "red-shirts" announced to call off the rally and turned themselves in on May 19 after the troops carried out an operation to disperse them by force.

Source: Xinhua


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