Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The leaders of the "red shirts" who led the protests in Bangkok in 2010 will appear tomorrow in court, in the trial that sees them accused on charges of terrorism. The story is likely to exacerbate minds even more in a nation already marked by a deep political crisis, heightened by the head-on collision between two different factions. The first supports Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother Thaksin, the exiled billionaire who has received a two-year sentence for corruption, and considered the true "mastermind" of the executive branch; on the other side, the opposition led by former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, the "yellow shirts" and the monarchist and pro-military wing.
The 24 defendants, among whom there are five MPs still in office, risk a conviction that could entail the death penalty. They sustained the ranks of popular protests that shook the heart of the capital for weeks, involving hundreds of thousands of people coming from other provinces. The demonstrations paralyzed the commercial area and at their height caused violent clashes that resulted in deaths and injuries, besides having a heavy impact on the country's economy. There were roughly 90 victims and almost 2,000 wounded, before the military intervention that put an end to the protest.
The leaders of the "red shirts" say they are confident that they can prove their innocence in court, accusing the previous government of "using force" to quell the demonstrations. One of the leaders was Nattawut Saikuar, now Deputy Minister of Commerce, according to whom the situation in the weeks of protest was one of "high tension".
In August 2010, the defendants denied all charges, denying their involvement in alleged incidents of violence, during which dozens of buildings were set on fire , including a shopping center and the seat of the stock exchange. On the other hand, there have been neither investigations nor charges against personalities close to the government then in office or military leaders, who led the repression of the protest by resorting to force. For this reason, critics decry a "double standard" in analyzing the bloody events of the spring of 2010, which then led to the fall of Prime Minister Abhisit and granted a win at the polls to Shinawatra.
This morning, in the meantime, the Prime Minister easily defeated the no-confidence motion that the opposition had presented in Parliament. The accusation against the Prime Minister is that of failing to effectively combat corruption and of being a "puppet" in the hands of her brother Thaksin, the true holder of power, self-exiled to escape a prison sentence. Yingluck, the first woman to head a government in Thailand, got 308 votes out of 467, gaining the full support of the entire coalition governing the executive branch.