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August 14, 2007

Ex-PM Thaksin, wife face arrest warrants
Thailand’s Attorney General prepared to ask the Supreme Court to issue arrest warrants if ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife Pojaman fail to appear before the court on its first hearing on August 14 over a controversial land deal.

“The arrest warrants, if granted, will lead to legal procedure to seek cooperation from Britain to extradite the deposed prime minister and his wife, now living in exile in London, to stand trial in Thailand,” Attorney General Pachara Yuthidhammadamrong said.

The charges involve a Bt772-million sale of land in Bangkok's Ratchadaphisek area from the Office of the Financial Institutes Development Fund to the wife of the then prime minister.

The former prime minister has been accused of abusing his power by being party to buying the 33-rai plot of land at a favourable price.

Under the National Counter Corruption provisions, the  then premier was prohibited from making any contracts or becoming party in any contract or transaction with state agencies because he could gain benefits or losses from his actions.

Mr. Thaksin's wife  Pojaman, likewise, was prohibited from becoming party or seeking benefit improperly. She was also allegedly found guilty of misconduct and corruption.

Thaksin’s legal advisor said earlier it was unlikely his client would return to Thailand to stand trial.

If the defendants fail to turn up for the first hearing, the attorney general pointed out, their lawyer has to present the statement to the court explaining the reason of their absence.

“It was up to the court’s discretion whether to issue arrest warrants before proceeding the case on absence of the defendants. Then the attorney-general office would petition the UK Justice Minister to seek an extradition of Mr. Thaksin and his wife," Mr. Pachara said.  TNA


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