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Page last updated at 06:38 GMT, Tuesday, 11 May 2010 07:38 UK

Thai deputy PM visits investigators over crackdown

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban arrives at the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) office on 11 March 2010
Protesters blame Deputy PM Suthep for the 10 April deaths

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban has visited the office of investigators of the failed army crack-down on red-shirt protests on 10 April.

Anti-government protesters want Mr Suthep to take responsibility for the deaths of 25 people in that operation.

There are conflicting reports from various red-shirt leaders on whether Mr Suthep's visit will be enough to bring about an end to the red-shirt protests.

Thousands of protesters have been camped out in Bangkok for two months.

They are occupying major thoroughfares in the centre of the city, closing shops and hotels.

'Take responsibility'

In a much-delayed announcement on Monday night, the red-shirts accepted Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's offer of elections on 14 November but said they would not go home until the deputy PM surrendered to police.

Mr Suthep was in charge of security operations on 10 April, when 25 people - including five soldiers - were killed in a failed attempt to disperse protesters.

RED-SHIRT PROTEST
14 Mar: Red-shirts converge on Bangkok, hold first big rally, occupy government district
16 Mar: Protesters splash their own blood at Government House
30 Mar: A round of talks with the government ends in deadlock
3 Apr: Red-shirts occupy Bangkok shopping district
10 Apr: Troops try to clear protesters; 25 people are killed and hundreds injured
22 Apr: Grenade blasts kill one and injure 85 near protest hub; each side blames the other
3 May: PM Abhisit offers reconciliation plan and polls on 14 November

On Tuesday he visited the Department of Special Investigations, which comes under the Justice Ministry, to hear the complaint against him.

The visit was to "show our sincerity by entering the judicial process", he said.

But the red-shirts have said they wanted him to visit the police, which they believe to be less sympathetic to the government.

One red-shirt leader, Dr Weng Tojirakarn, appeared to cast doubt on any assumption that Mr Suthep's actions had been enough to move the reconciliation process forward.

"We want a criminal charge against Suthep as well as Abhisit and we want a truly independent committee to be set up to investigate recent political violence," said Dr Weng.

"We cannot just end the protest without true reconciliation, which means they have to take responsibility for their actions," he was reported as saying.

The government has told reporters that it was trying its best to meet the demands but that the protesters' demands were unclear.

"We have intended to let justice take its course and enter the process to show our sincerity," said government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn.

"We aren't doing it to meet their demand... it's not clear to me what they are demanding so we can't respond to something we don't understand," Reuters quoted him as saying.

The protestors, a loose coalition of left-wing activists, democracy campaigners and supporters of ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra, say the government is illegitimate because it came to power through a parliamentary deal rather than an election.

They began their protest on 14 March, demanding fresh elections.



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