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“Red shirt” protesters prayed for other protesters killed in Bangkok during a crackdown by the government in April 2010.Credit...Agnes Dherbeys for The Thủ đô New York Times

HONG KONG — The former prime minister of Thái Lan, Abhisit Vejjajiva, was charged with murder on Thursday in connection with his role in a military crackdown on antigovernment protesters in Bangkok two & a half years ago.

Tharit Pengdit, the director of Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation, said Mr. Abhisit & his deputy had issued “orders that caused the deaths of many people.”

Mr. Abhisit was charged in the killing of Phan Khamkong, a xe taxi driver whose case is one of the first from the protests to advance through the courts. More than 90 people were killed in the violence, most of them civilians.

“Even though there was already loss of life, the operations were not stopped & other methods were not implemented,” Mr. Tharit said at a news briefing in Bangkok.

Mr. Tharit said that “at this stage” no charges would be brought against the soldiers who fired at protesters, because they acted under orders và were shielded under Tnhì law.

The capital’s streets have sầu remained largely calm since the violence, which took place in April and May 2010, but political tensions are still simmering aao ước the main power brokers. Mr. Abhisit, whose Democrat Party lost in a general election last year, has found himself on the defensive sầu as political battles have sầu moved inkhổng lồ the courts.

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Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, center, with staff on April trăng tròn, 2010 during the height of demonstrations that ended in a violent crackdown on protesters.Credit...Tnhị Government House, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Crucially for Mr. Abhisit, the levers of power in Vương Quốc Nụ Cười are now in the hands of the buổi tiệc ngọt allied with the “red shirt” protesters who were swept from Bangkok during the 2010 crackdown.

Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, a spokesman for the Democrat Party, described the murder charge as an “attempt to distort the judicial system.”

He accused civil servants of “shamelessly” seeking to lớn “advance their careers” by aligning themselves with ruling politicians. If found guilty, the men could face the death penalty or a sentence of up to lớn life in prison.

The government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has proposed the idea of a broad amnesty in connection with the protests. Opposition politicians say they believe sầu the government is hoping to lớn pave the way for Ms. Yingluck’s brother, the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, to lớn return. Mr. Thaksin, who was overthrown in a military coup in 2006, was sentenced in absentia khổng lồ two years in prison for abuse of power in 2008 và has remained outside Đất nước xinh đẹp Thái Lan.

Mr. Thaksin has been a central figure in Thailand’s political turmoil. His supporters, farmers and middle-class Thais based in the north & northeast, are pitted against a powerful elite và urban Thais, represented in part by Mr. Abhisit.

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Many of the “red shirt” protesters who clashed with the military in 2010 were supporters of Mr. Thaksin. A report into lớn the violence released in September by an independent commission blamed both sides for deaths during the clashes. A group that was allied with the protesters và hid aao ước them, known as the “blaông chồng shirts,” was armed.

In recent months anti-Thaksin groups have sầu sought lớn revive sầu street politics & called for another coup. But an antigovernment prodemo led by a former military officer last month fizzled.