ID :
Tue, 08/12/2008 - 18:24
Auther :

Prosecutor proceeds with land scandal trial in Thaksin, wife absence

BANGKOK, Aug 12 (TNA) -- Thailand will continue prosecution of the land scandal purchase case involving ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife Pojaman, a senior official said Tuesday, despite the couple having jumped bail and now living in exile in Britain.

Chief prosecutor Nunthasuk Poonsook, in his capacity as a member of the working committee probing the land purchase in Bangkok's prime
Ratchadapisek commercial district by the couple, said that the prosecutor would continue the trial until the case is closed on August 22.

Mr. Thaksin, ousted in a bloodless coup on Sept 19, 2006, and his wife are still scheduled to testify in court on that day.

The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions on Monday issued arrest warrants for them after they failed to appear at the court in the morning and also confiscated bail totaling Bt13 million.

The couple flew to London from Beijing and as Mr. Thaksin said in his
handwritten statement distributed to media outlets that he and his wife would not attend the court hearing.

The couple was 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 subsequently charged with alleged corruption and abuse of power.

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

Mr. Nunthasuk said as long as the case is not closed, extradition requests for the couple cannot be lodged with Britain. Also, it has to be studied whether the guilty is committed in both his home country and the country where he is staying.

Touching on whether Mr. Thaksin could apply for taking political asylum in Britain, Mr. Nunthasuk said it is "up to the consideration" of British officials.