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Thai minister rejects airport 'terrorist' charges

world Updated: Jul 07, 2009 11:44 IST

AFP
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Thailand's foreign minister has refused to resign over charges relating to a crippling airport blockade by anti-government demonstrators in Bangkok last year, saying that he is "not a terrorist."

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya reported to a police station late Monday to hear charges including illegal assembly, invasion, breaches of aviation law and terrorism following the rallies by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

"I am not a terrorist," said Kasit, whose involvement in the November-December airport campaign has made him a major target for the opposition, led by allies of ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

"I deny all charges. I joined the PAD bringing only my words and my pen -- I have no weapons. I was there (at the rallies) to exercise my rights according to the constitution and fight against the Thaksin regime," he said.

"They don't have evidence. There is no explanation about what they mean by terrorism. I didn't do anything wrong," he said when asked if would resign if the charges go to court.

The PAD is an ardent royalist group that helped topple tycoon Thaksin with mass rallies in 2006 and then took to the streets again last year to drive his allies out of government.

Their campaign peaked with the seizure of Bangkok's main Suvarnabhumi international and Don Mueang domestic airports, which left hundreds of thousands of travellers stranded and caused huge economic damage.

They abandoned the airport siege after the Constitutional Court disbanded the former ruling pro-Thaksin party in December. Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva won a parliamentary vote to become prime minister later that month.

Kasit was quoted by a British newspaper in December as saying that the airport siege was "a lot of fun" and that at the protests the "food was excellent, the music was excellent."

Abhisit told parliament in January that if Kasit were charged "and there are good grounds" then he could no longer remain as foreign minister.