Britain revokes Thaksin’s visa

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By Tim Johnston in Bangkok and George Parker in London

Published: November 9 2008 11:13 | Last updated: November 9 2008 16:45

The British government has revoked the visa granted to Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister of Thailand, who had taken refuge in England after being charged with corruption this year.

Mr Thaksin, a telecoms billionaire and one-time owner of Manchester City Football Club, was thrown out of office in a military coup in 2006. He returned to Thailand briefly early this year but he fled bail in August when it became clear that corruption charges against him, which he believes are politically motivated, would not be dropped.

British officials on Sunday confirmed that Mr Thaksin’s visa had been revoked because his “circumstances had changed” since he was first granted papers to enter the UK. Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, took the decision personally, but a Home Office spokesman declined to comment further on Mr Thaksin’s case.

Thai media at the weekend published a message apparently sent late last week by a Bangkok-based UK Border Agency official, Andy Gray, telling airlines that Mr Thaksin’s British tourist visa, along with that of his wife, Potjaman, had been revoked.

Thailand’s Supreme Court tried Mr Thaksin in absentia last month on charges of breaking conflict-of-interest laws on a property deal his wife sealed while he was prime minister. He was found guilty and sentenced to two years in jail.

Thailand’s attorney general had said that he would seek Mr Thaksin’s extradition from the UK to serve his sentence, but legal experts have said they had little chance of succeeding.

Although the former prime minister has issued a number of statements from his house in Surrey, there has been no suggestion in the public domain that he has broken British law.

Mr Thaksin stands at the heart of the stalemate that has paralysed Thai politics for more than three years.

A thin-skinned populist with an authoritarian streak, he won two straight elections in 2001 and 2005. But in doing so he upset decades of political status quo by courting the vote of Thailand’s largely marginalised rural poor and that, combined with an impression that he was using his office to enrich himself, led to a backlash which culminated in the military coup.

But his opponents had reckoned without the continuing support of rural Thais, who benefited from cheap government loans and healthcare provided by Mr Thaksin, and who voted his allies back into office when the military called elections late last year.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

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  1. Great Britan
    model of demoracy with King
    Today, what’ s up to them.
    Afraid to power of small troops
    and Junta of Siam.
    to minimize value of democracy.
    I very sorrow to the brave of England navi
    who troop to many place of the world
    to free them from Junta and black power.
    But today ,who wasting it.?

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