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    » 06/13/2007, 00.00

    THAILAND

    Thaksin can return but his life is in danger, says government



    The leader of the ruling military junta claims the authorities cannot protect him if he returns. The assets of the former PM’s and his wife worth more than US$ 1.6 billion are frozen. He calls the decision a political attack and vows to take legal action, if necessary at the international level.

    Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – If former PM Thaksin Shinawatra comes back to Thailand his life might be in danger and the authorities cannot guarantee him his safety, this according to General Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, leader of Thailand’s ruling military junta and chairman of the Council for National Security, who was responding to questions about the ousted leader’s possible return following the Assets Scrutiny Committee’s decision to freeze his assets and those of his wife Pojaman.

    Through his lawyer, Thaksin said that the decision is “a powerful reminder to all that Thailand remains in the grip of military rule that is divorced from the rule of law” and that he will “vigorously evaluate all international options to protect his rights and interests” including taking legal action against the Assets Scrutiny Committee.

    Noppadon Pattama, Thaksin’s lawyer, added that the decision will force him to come back quickly to fight the charges.

    On Tuesday, current Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said that Mr Thaksin was free to return, and that he would personally guarantee his safety. 

    Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin also gave assurance that the ex premier would not be detained or barred from engaging in political activities when he returns home. But unlike PM Surayud, the general warned that since there are many people who oppose Mr Thaksin, his return could put his life in danger.

    The decision to freeze Mr Thaksin’s accounts worth 52.9 billion baht (US$ 1.63 billion) was designed to hit the profits he made from the January 2006 sale of Shin Corporation.

    That decision has led to Thaksin being accused of corruption and abuse of power for allegedly using his office to increase the value of the stock of the telecommunications company before selling it.

    In his defence Thaksin said he had transferred company ownership to his two sons before he entered politics in 2001.

    Now he has 60 days to appeal the decision.

    Mr Thaksin, who was abroad when a military coup ousted him in September 2006, never went home.

    In May the country’s Constitutional Court disbanded his party, Thai Rak Thai, and declared him and the party’s other leaders ineligible to run for public office for five years.

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    See also

    27/09/2006 THAILAND
    Calm only apparent in the generals' Thailand
    The name of the new prime minister should be announced on Sunday. He will likely be a retired general and so considered a civilian by the country's new rulers. Thai analysts warn that if restrictions on civil rights get too tight, a hitherto passive population might react.

    27/07/2007 THAILAND
    Nine anti-coup protest organisers in prison
    First violent clashes between demonstrators and police since last September coup take place. Military get higher defence budget and start to fill key civilian posts. For experts the old ruling triad—monarchy, military, bureaucracy—is back on top, unwilling to cede power.

    30/03/2007 THAILAND
    Transitional government pledges first post-coup elections for December
    Prime minister makes the announcement, but the date still has to be decided. Coup generals had pledged elections for September. Popular dissatisfaction towards the new government is growing as it proves unable to bring political stability to the country.

    21/06/2007 THAILAND
    Thaksin charged with corruption in Supreme Court
    For the first time since last September’s military coup, prosecutors claim they have enough evidence to charge the former prime minister. Public opinion had been waiting a long time for this moment. Government announces November elections if draft constitution is adopted in August.

    02/11/2006 THAILAND
    Bangkok tries new approach to solve crisis in mostly Muslim south
    The government plans to start dialogue with the rebels and reactivates a mediation agency shut down by Thaksin in 2001. It also began talks with leaders of the local Muslim community with Malaysia's backing.



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