10/26/2006, 00.00
THAILAND
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Coup leader admits lack of evidence against Thaksin

General Sonthi however warned the ex-premier not to think about coming back. Army justification for its September coup could be undermined and the military fears it may lose popular support.

Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Investigators have not yet found concrete evidence to support corruption charges against Thailand's ex-prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. This was revealed by General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, leader of the coup that overthrew the controversial premier on 19 September.

The lack of proof against Thaksin undermines justification of the coup to overthrow him. In any case, Sonthi warned the former government chief, now in exile in London, against returning to his homeland and said that the military was on alert for any risk of a counter-coup.

General Sonthi, who remains head of a Council for National Security that is de facto ruling the country, talked about the Thaksin investigation in an interview with the Nation newspaper. "We cannot impound the money he made with accountable legal evidence, but can only look for some possible hidden evidence with questionable background."

The head of the military junta has often justified September's bloodless coup d'etat by saying that the rampant corruption marking Thaksin's five years in power threatened the very foundations of the nation's democracy. After seizing power, Sonthi set up panels to investigate charges against the telecommunications tycoon.

The General has acknowledged that the military could lose the public support it has enjoyed so far if nothing emerges to confirm the ex-premier's guilt.

The latter is exiled in London and cannot return yet. "If he's really concerned about the country, he shouldn't try to come back at present," he said.

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