02/27/2010, 00.00
THAILAND
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Bangkok: partial sentence for Thaksin, confiscated half of frozen assets

by Weena Kowitwanij
The former Thai prime minister and multimillionaire has a month to appeal against the sentence. The courts have seized part of his assets (1.7 billion Euros), the result of illegal deals while he was in public office. The ruling could trigger new violence in the country.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) - Thaksin Shinawatra has 30 days to appeal the sentence handed down yesterday by the Supreme Court, but only if he can provide "new mitigating evidence". Otherwise, the former Thai premier in exile will see confiscated 46 of the 76 billion baht (about 1.7 billion euros) which - according to the judges - are the result of "abuse of power, concealment of assets and public tax evasion" carried out while he held the post of prime minister. The balance the frozen sum - 30 billion baht, the equivalent to 700 million Euros - will be returned to Thaksin because part of personal wealth, before his public inauguration.

It took almost seven hours to read the verdict against Thaksin Shinawatra, Thai and multi premier from 2001 to 20,006, when a military coup overthrew his government. For four years the former prime minister lived in exile in London - he was the owner of football club Manchester City - and Dubai. Recently the Cambodian government's decision to hire him as a "financial adviser" caused a diplomatic row between Bangkok and Phnom Penh.

According to prosecutors the family of the powerful politician and businessman owned "parts" of Shin Corp. - Thai telecom giant – to which the government granted tax concessions and benefits that filled Thaksin's personal coffers. The judges also questioned loans to the Government of Myanmar, through Exim Bank for the purchase of satellite by the same Shin Corp.

From his exile in the UAE, Thaksin launched a video message to his supporters: "Today I weep for my life – he said dressed in the colours of mourning -. My story is a great lesson for all Thai businessmen, so they will not enter politics. " Korn Jatikawanich, Minister of Finance, said the ruling "will have a big impact" on the economy of the country.

The sentence could trigger new violence in Thailand. Yesterday, the government deployed about 20 thousand soldiers to ensure security around the court. The red shirts - close to Thaksin – are for the moment calm, but they have announced street protests in March. A million people, they promise, will gather to call for new elections. The yellow shirts - close to the current premier Abhisit Vejjajiva and protagonist of the expulsion of pro-Thaksin government - are dissatisfied with the decision: they maintain the former Thai premier, should return all assets to the state.

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