Thai ex-premier-in-exile to stay away from home, lawyer says


Tue, 26 Jun 2007 10:02:01GMT


Bangkok – Deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will not return to
Thailand this week to face police charges and corruption cases, citing
fears for his security and a lack of democracy in the country, his
lawyer said Tuesday. Noppadol Pattama, Thaksin’s Bangkok-based lawyer
and unofficial spokesman, said the ousted-premier-in-exile will stay
away from Thailand until after a general election is held in November
or December of this year.

Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has given Thaksin
and his wife Potjaman until this Friday to return to Thailand to hear
charges that they deliberately concealed their share-hoildings in
SC Assets, a listed company of the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET).

If Thaksin and Potjaman miss the deadline, the DSI has threatened to
issue arrest warrants for the once powerful couple and possibly seek
their extradition.

Thaksin has been residing primarily in London since he was overthrown
by a military coup on September 19, 2006, on charges of corruption and
dividing the nation. Potjaman, who ran his business empire while
Thaksin was premier between 2001 to 2006, is in Singapore, allegedly
receiving medical treatment.

The billionaire former premier is currently finalizing a 81.6 million
pound (169 million dollar) purchase of England’s Manchester City
football club.

Thai media has speculated that the purchase of the financially
struggling team was timed to enhance Thaksin’s chances of avoiding
extradition from England, should Thai authorities push for it.

Noppodol said Thaksin was not planning to return soon because Thailand
was still under the rule of the military junta that ousted him and he
feared for his safety.

He added that he did not trust Thailand’s judicial system in the current circumstances.



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