Thaksin will not return to face court. – 27/06/2007

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Former Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, was due to appear
before police this week on charges of tax evasion. But he has refused
to return, saying it is unsafe and that he would not get a fair trial.
The Department of Special Investigation is not giving up, however and
has extended the deadline for Mr Thaksin to appear.

SNOWDON:
Last week a defiant Mr Thaksin said he would return to Thailand and
prove the charges against him were wrong. He’s been charged with
misconduct relating to his wife’s purchase of Bangkok real estate.
Already his bank accounts have been frozen and he’s been banned from
politics for five years along with the party he formed and which
dominated the Parliament. The Prime Minister General Surayud Chulanont
has said he can ensure his safety if he returns, but now Mr Thaksin’s
lawyer Noppodon Pattama says that’s a hollow promise.

Presenter – Karon Snowdon  Speaker – Noppodon Pattama, lawyer for Thaksin Shinawatra; Chris Baker, Bangkok-based political analyst

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NOPPODON: We are very grateful for his guarantee. Can he
guarantee the safety of people in the south? He cannot. We trust that
he is a good man but we cannot leave the fate of the life of our client
in the hands of the Prime Minister or the Chairman of the CNS, General
Sonthi. We don’t trust their ability to provide adequate safety to our
client.

SNOWDON:
Now living in exile in London, Mr Thaksin has enjoyed travelling around
the world since the September coup which ousted him. He might be able
to continue as its unlikely he can be extradited according to political
analyst Chris Baker.

BAKER: On past record extraditing someone
from the UK back to Thailand is very very difficult indeed. There’s a
famous case of one of the financiers who fled after the Asia crisis 10
years, who very successfully has defied extradition proceedings for 10
years.

SNOWDON: So what can we expect to be the Thai courts’
response? Do you think they’ll follow up with an extradition – will
they bother to pursue extradition through the courts?

BAKER: I
think they will pursue the case, I think they have to for form’s sake.
But there’s already been talk here in the press here and amongst the
judges that they have very low expectations.

SNOWDON: But in the meantime they’ve frozen his bank accounts so I suppose he’s unlikely to have that money returned?

BAKER:
Yes, I mean the risk to Thaksin of doing that is that he may lose quite
a bit of the money that has currently been frozen here and is the
suibject of various lawsuits, yes it’s quite a high financial risk for
him.

SNOWDON: Thai society remains divided over the blatant
cronyism and corruption of the Thaksin government, with many others
maintaining fond memories of his popular policies. But while cheaper
health care and forgiven farm loans ensured electoral success the
already-wealthy family was enriching itself with the privileges of
power. Lawyer Noppodon Pattama has advised his client to stay away
because he says Thaksin can’t get a fair trial in Thailand before
democracy is restored.

NOPPODON: First reason is Thailand is
under dictatorship regime. The due process of law has been interfered
and been abused. Secondly, we think that our client won’t get a fair
trial. Thirdly, safety issue – we don’t trust the government and the
junta, their ability to take good care of our client. And fourthly –
the national reconciliation in Thailand should proceed without Khun
Thaksin being blamed for instigating or masterminding or orchestrating
any rally. So, for major reasons we will adivse our client not to
return to Thailand. he should come back after democracy returns to
Thailand.

SNOWDON: Lawyer Noppodon Pattama wouldn’t comment on
Mr Thaksin’s multi-million dollar bid for the Manchester City Football
Club. Thai elections have been promised by the military government by
the end of the year.

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