Arrest warrants out for ex-PM Thaksin, wife

ID :
Mon, 08/11/2008 - 20:17

Arrest warrants out for ex-PM Thaksin, wife

BANGKOK, Aug 11 (TNA) -- Thailand's Supreme Court on Monday issued arrest warrants for ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife Pojaman and also confiscated bail totaling Bt13 million (US$389,000).

Actions taken by the court came after the couple failed to appear early
Monday at the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political
Positions to fight charges on the Bangkok land scandal which occurred in

The couple were charged with purchasing the property at the questionably
low price of Bt772 million (US$26 million) from the Bank of Thailand's
Financial Institutions Development Fund in 2003 while he was in office,
which was against the constitution. Mr. Thaksin was charged with alleged
corruption and abuse of power.

Both Mr. Thaksin and his wife, who was convicted on July 31 of tax evasion
and released on bail, have denied any wrongdoing.

The court issued the warrants for the arrest of the couple after a team of
their lawyers presented a document to the court stating why Mr. Thaksin
and his wife failed to appear at the court. The lawyers returned before
the court issued the order in the afternoon.

The bank was ordered to send the guarantor money to the court within five
days after the order was issued.

In a handwritten statement issued earlier in the day, the couple said that
they had decided to stay in the United Kingdom and not return to Thailand
to fight graft charges in a Thai court.

Their lawyer Kamnuan Chalopatham said before the court issued the order
that he was confident the deposed premier would return home and defend
himself in court.

The multi-billionaire couple left Bangkok last week after the court
allowed them to attend the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics last

They were scheduled to return to Bangkok on Sunday but flew from Beijing
to London instead.

Besides the land procurement scandal, the couple are also facing several
other charges in court.

"In principle, Thaksin would return to fight the case because the only
persons who could give the final and clear evidence is he (Mr. Thaksin)
and Mrs. Pojaman. It's still unpredictable what he would decide," Mr.
Kamnuan said.

Prosecutors will have to coordinate with the British court on the
extradition process, Secretary General Sarawut Benjakul of Office of the
Judiciary said.

The deposed premier had his own explanation for what was going on, as he
told the press in London:

"What happened to me, my family and close associates resulted from a
desire to discard me from politics through an assassination attempt
followed by a coup and appointed a group of my enemies to investigate me
and my family.

"The constitution which was inherited from the dictatorship had appointed
people who supported the coup, both directly and indirectly, to become
committee in several organisations and finish me off," Mr. Thaksin said in
his statement.