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Verdict due today on ex-PM’s abuse of authority

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October 21, 2008

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PAD steps up pressure on PM to quit
Verdict due today on ex-PM’s abuse of authority

Thousands of anti-government protesters marched through the streets of Bangkok on Monday, calling the prime minister a "murderer" and demanding he resign over the violent quashing of a previous rally, reported the Associated Press.

The demonstrators have stepped up their protests against Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat since a protest outside parliament October 7 ended in a violent confrontation with police that left one demonstrator dead and hundreds of others injured.

Pressure on Somchai increased last week when the powerful army chief hinted he should resign, leading to fears the military would carry out its second coup in two years.

Somchai has brushed aside calls for his resignation, saying he would await the outcome of an investigation into the violence that was expected to conclude in the coming weeks.

Many of those marching Monday held posters of Somchai over the word "murderer." A huge banner on a sound truck showed pictures of the police crackdown, calling it "Murder at the Thai parliament."

"The government is killing the people. They ordered the police to kill the people and we want justice," said Nutr Thumpatpong, a 20-year-old student.

The anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy has called for Somchai's resignation since he took power last month, branding him a puppet of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a telecommunications billionaire, accused of corruption and abuse of power. Thaksin fled to London to escape corruption charges.

Thaksin faces his first possible conviction Tuesday when the Supreme Court is scheduled to deliver a verdict in a corruption case against him and his wife, Pojaman. The case stems from Pojaman's 2003 purchase of a plot of land in central Bangkok from a government agency at a deflated price while Thaksin was prime minister.

Thaksin has been charged with malfeasance and corruption. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

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